Tuesday, April 26, 2022

EMAIL FROM AMERICA (8): Gerrymandering to get the Right result

Tracking the chaos...

Gerrymandering is the process of drawing legislative maps so that the legislators drawing the maps get to select their voters, rather than the usual definition of democracy.

There are several such strategies employed, most of which have been refined by the use of extensive polling and computer models. One is to 'pack' voters of opposing parties into compact districts, another to dilute the effects of those voters by dividing up the areas in inventive ways.

These can result in districts which look like squashed bugs or slime trails. For reference, here is Ohio's current map:

'...Under the House proposal, Akron would be divided into two districts with one stretching into Portage, Ashtabula and Trumbull counties, while another extends into several Appalachian counties south of the city. Both districts would favor Republicans...'

While the tactic has been used by both major political parties over the years, it has been polished to perfection by the GOP.

Such redistricting occurs every 10 years, after the census.

In North Carolina, the state supreme court has just struck down the new proposed maps, on the grounds that they violate the principle of 'free and fair' elections.

In South Carolina, a lawsuit against the new maps is moving forward. The claim is that the maps are racially gerrymandered, diluting black votes. This falls on the heels of comments recorded on the floor of the state house of representatives some years ago, in which exactly this approach was proposed.

In Texas, a lawsuit against their new maps is moving forward, also on the grounds of racial gerrymandering.

In Florida, Governor deSantis signed their new maps into law, despite a lawsuit. Among other issues, the new maps eliminated all black districts in the north of the state in both Congress and the state House.

In Ohio some years ago, over 70% of voters amended the state constitution, demanding that maps reflect as closely as possible the preferences of voters. Instead, the 5 GOP members on the redistricting commission have passed 4 separate sets of maps without either of the Democrat votes on the committee. All of them have been thrown down by the Republican-majority State Supreme Court. The maps give an advantage of 70-80% in seats to the GOP in Congress and the state House, while actual votes in the state are approximately 56% GOP and 44% Democrat. Lawmakers have protested the court's actions, and have proposed impeachment of the Chief Justice.

These are not the actions of a party which believes that they can win fair elections.

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