Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Gerrymandering in the news

So the Texas redistricting issue is now going before the Supreme Court.  I leave it to you, the reader, to peruse the article, look on Google, pick up your newspaper, whatever, and get the bulk of the story.   Quick context is that the state Republican party wants to redraw the districts in a non-census year (which is when you would normally do it) and the Democrats are taking this up the fish ladder, all the way to top, claiming that the redistricting will favor Republicans heavily, and therefore is partisan and wrong and unconstitutional.

But this is a long standing argument about gerrymandering that caused the Texas state Democratic party to exile themselves, first in New Mexico and then in Oklahoma, in order that the state senate would not have a quorum, and therefore could not vote on the redistricting plan.  At it’s very essence, it’s a partisan battle to decide who controls the House of Reps next year.  The difference between the way districts were drawn in 2002 and today, and with the Republican plan, makes or breaks several legislative campaigns for either party.  Does anyone think that either party is speaking totally truthfully?

Of all the articles I’ve read, none pick up why this became an issue in the first place.  Of note, before 2002, the primarily red state of Texas was for some reason still electing a lot of Democrats to the US House.  Why is that?  Exactly, extreme gerrymandering was already in place!  The Republicans effort here should be considered as it is:  a move to eradicate bad districting in the state of Texas.

However, I haven’t seen the re-districting.  It may be that the Republican plan is just as bad, only in the other direction.  It is possible to draw districts so that large areas of your opponents supporters are diluted into your strong areas until they just don’t have a majority anywhere.  So It’s possible that the redistricting does dilute the voting power of minorities.   But the question is:  are the minority populations of Texas getting their voting rights purposefully stomped on by the Republicans, or are their districts just getting less potent because they were heavily gerrymandered in the first place, giving them a disproportionate amount of voting power?

Here’s a better article, and since it’s coming from Texas, it has better information.

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