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High court's hot potato: redistricting
By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

(2006-02-28) A high-stakes redistricting case is pushing the US Supreme Court into politically charged territory.

At issue: whether Republican tactics to redraw Texas congressional districts in 2003 violated election laws or the US Constitution.

A decision by the high court, which hears the case Wednesday, could have far-reaching political consequences.

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wnku/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=884443


Discuss please.

I'm of the opinion that gerrymandering should be outlawed entirely. It inevitably results in cronyism, favoritism, and power plays that are costing our country its very foundation; Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

I think districts are necessary, but should be bound either by, say, county lines, or bounded by straight lines (or straight as possible) containing an equal amount of citizens in each district. Neither should be allowed to take voter registration or party affiliation into account. The second would make for varying sized land masses per district, but congressional representatives would be stewards of what the people want, not what the party wants. It would give more voice/weight to local concerns, and not have to rely on Washington to dole out favors based on party loyalty.




Rich
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Rich I think districts are necessary

Not necessary at the federal level for sure. My congresscritter is in DC not down the road.

Pass a constitutional amendment eliminating congressional districts. All candidates for the House run at large with preference voting.

See http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22998363

Problem solved.

Peter

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I think districts are necessary

Not necessary at the federal level for sure. My congresscritter is in DC not down the road.

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Right. After I posted that I realized I should've specified 'at the state level'. The Fed gov't is WAY too big & intrusive. Didn't that used to be anathema to Republicans? I'm beginning to think Pat Buchanan is the only real Republican left standing.

The current situation puts the lie to the 'All politics is local' myth.



Pass a constitutional amendment eliminating congressional districts. All candidates for the House run at large with preference voting.
See http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22998363
Problem solved.
Peter

-----
Agreed. What do think are the odds of that happening in our lifetime?






Rich
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Not necessary at the federal level for sure. My congresscritter is in DC not down the road.

Pass a constitutional amendment eliminating congressional districts. All candidates for the House run at large with preference voting.

See http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=22998363

Problem solved.


Looks more like problem created to me. Just make them stick to natural borders (county lines, rivers...) and straight lines. With your plan every federally elected official from the state of California could be from LA, rural representation would eliminated entirely.
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Just make them stick to natural borders (county lines, rivers...) and straight lines

That could be hard to do also as the districts are supposed to be approx. equal in population and who knows if natural boundries exist that can approximate the districts by the correct numbers.

You are right tho about the at large plan. Since everyone would have to vote on every Rep for the state the large urban centers would carry more weight in the elections and leave the lower populated areas hi and dry.

It's very easy to solve tho but the politicians won't do it, looking for whatever edge they can get, and the courts seem to take a hands off approach except in the most egregious circumstances and usually then only in cases where disenfranchiement is based on race rather than party affiliation. All they have to do is keep the districts drawn in reasonable geometric shapes, squares, rectangles, maybe a trapezoid or two instead of things like a circle which winds up being surrounded by 2 S curves which then adjoin a parabola, etc, etc, etc.

herb
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Just make them stick to natural borders (county lines, rivers...) and straight lines

That could be hard to do also as the districts are supposed to be approx. equal in population and who knows if natural boundries exist that can approximate the districts by the correct numbers.

Hence the straight lines when the natural borders don't cut it. Easy enough to achieve especially with the technology we have today. It really wouldn't take all that much to plug the population numbers on map with the county lines and other natural borders (streets in heavily populated cities) and have a program just bust the map into a certain number of districts that all have the same population drawing a straight line from one natural boundry to another (or in some cases another straight line) only when necessary.

You are right tho about the at large plan. Since everyone would have to vote on every Rep for the state the large urban centers would carry more weight in the elections and leave the lower populated areas hi and dry.

Peter tends go for the esoteric before the simple. :~)

It's very easy to solve tho but the politicians won't do it, looking for whatever edge they can get, and the courts seem to take a hands off approach except in the most egregious circumstances and usually then only in cases where disenfranchiement is based on race rather than party affiliation. All they have to do is keep the districts drawn in reasonable geometric shapes, squares, rectangles, maybe a trapezoid or two instead of things like a circle which winds up being surrounded by 2 S curves which then adjoin a parabola, etc, etc, etc.

That's basically what I'm suggesting.
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Mark With your plan every federally elected official from the state of California could be from LA, rural representation would eliminated entirely.

Wolf You are right tho about the at large plan. Since everyone would have to vote on every Rep for the state the large urban centers would carry more weight in the elections and leave the lower populated areas hi and dry.

That not the way preference voting comes out. Minorities (e.g. rural voters) are MUCH more likely to be represented. There are currently 52 House reps from CA. Imagine that five representatives run at large from rural areas of the state. Almost everyone in the rural areas would vote for all five. Close to zero votes fron these areas would go to LA candidates. It is practically certain that most of the five rural candidates would be elected.

Same for Greens, Libertarians, Afro-americans, Hispanic, gays, feminists, etc.

Every minority gets some representation.

Note: you don't have to vote for all 52 slots. You can vote for any number from 1 to 52. "Bullet voting" is the way the first non-frat student council candidate got elected at UVa. (Marshall Coleman for those who remember the name. :)

Peter

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That not the way preference voting comes out. Minorities (e.g. rural voters) are MUCH more likely to be represented. There are currently 52 House reps from CA. Imagine that five representatives run at large from rural areas of the state. Almost everyone in the rural areas would vote for all five. Close to zero votes fron these areas would go to LA candidates. It is practically certain that most of the five rural candidates would be elected

Sorry Peter but don't work that way. Just look at the last gubenatorial election in Pennsylvania. Rendell won the popular vote yet only took 17 out of 67 counties yet he took the most populated ones. Pa is an interesting state. You have 3 fairly liberal corners, Philly, Pittsburg and Scanton with the rest being almost bible belt conservative. In a statewide race it is basically the suburbs of the 3 urban areas that make the decision. If they go GOP the Republican usually wins, if they go Dem then he wins. So, while right now there is a fair mix of Dems and Republicans in our Congressional makeup if the seats had been at large in the last couple elections we would have a much higher, if not entirely, Democratic Congressional delegation becasue that is the way those suburbs have gone the last couple of elections. The conservative center of the state would have been practically shut out even tho they cover about two thirds of the area of the state. As it is now most of the Democratic Reps are concentrated in the urban areas, the GOP in the rural and the suburbs have a mix because of the districting lines.

herb
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Mark With your plan every federally elected official from the state of California could be from LA, rural representation would eliminated entirely.

Wolf You are right tho about the at large plan. Since everyone would have to vote on every Rep for the state the large urban centers would carry more weight in the elections and leave the lower populated areas hi and dry.


That not the way preference voting comes out. Minorities (e.g. rural voters) are MUCH more likely to be represented. There are currently 52 House reps from CA. Imagine that five representatives run at large from rural areas of the state. Almost everyone in the rural areas would vote for all five. Close to zero votes fron these areas would go to LA candidates. It is practically certain that most of the five rural candidates would be elected.


No, it isn't and what if 50 of them ran against each other instead 5? Voters can't figure out a butterfly ballot for Pete's sake... and you want to throw all this at them.
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herb Sorry Peter but don't work that way. Just look at the last gubenatorial election in Pennsylvania.

I wasn't aware that PA had preference voting.

Peter

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I wasn't aware that PA had preference voting.


I'm talking about statewide races of any sort. The heavy population centers always have an advantage.

herb
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I'm talking about statewide races of any sort. The heavy population centers always have an advantage.

herb


You don't understand the effect of preference voting.

Try this:

How Proportional Representation Can Empower Minorities and the Poor
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/articles/empower.htm

Preference voting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting

"Approval voting" is a simpler way to implement preference voting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approval_voting

Peter

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OK

My mistake. I missed the preference voting reference in your original post. I just caught the at-large part of it.

You are right about the preferential voting giving weight to underrepresented groups where you either weight the votes or where you only vote for one but the top 5 actually get in.

I was thinking more on the terms of the usual at-large election where there are 5 seats open so you get to vote for 5.

herb
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herb You are right about the preferential voting giving weight to underrepresented groups where you either weight the votes or where you only vote for one but the top 5 actually get in.

When you start looking in to this it gets confusing because there are so many different ways to do it.

But I think almost any method would be better than what we have now: two-party domination with first-past-the-post winners.

Peter

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"the only real Republican left standing."

There are still a handful of Republicans standing up against big government and fiscal irresponsibility (e.g. Ron Paul), but most Republicans are following the lead of George Bush et al and spending like drunken sailors on shore leave. The few remaining fiscally conservative Republicans get steamrollered by the big government/big brother Repubicans (who seem to make up 95% of the party at this point).

Hell, at this point, I think it can be intelligently argued that the DEMOCRATS ARE MORE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE
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