Posts tagged ‘Gerrymandering’

08/30/2011

Wisconsin Redistricting: Gerrymandered

The courts should reject the new Congressional lines drawn by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin House and Senate, because they are the result of gerrymandering and violate the U.S. Constitution.

Every 10 years, an updated census is conducted and the states are then free to draw new Congressional lines to reflect any shifts in population that may have occurred during the previous decade.

Upon receiving data from the 2010 Census, the Republicans at the state capital in Madison, redrew the U.S. House seats for Wisconsin in a way designed to help the GOP hold or gain seats.

One target is the Wisconsin 7th Congressional District in the north, which Democrat David Obey represented for 41 years, from 1969 through his retirement in 2010. Since Obey was replaced by a Republican, the GOP now wants to hold that seat in 2012, so they drew the new lines to help their freshman friend get re-elected.

They did this by removing Democrats from the 7th and replacing them with Republicans from the 3rd. They reassigned Democratic leaning cities like Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point from the 7th to the 3rd, and moved rural towns from the 3rd to the 7th.

They accomplished their gerrymandering scheme by manipulating the line of the 3rd Congressional District into a non-contiguous U-shaped area, with the city of Eau Claire on the left wing of it, and the cities of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, on the right side of it. Rural areas between the two prongs were assigned to the 7th.

Now, the only practical way to drive from the new 3rd District cities of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point, on the right side of the U, to the rest of the 3rd District, on the left side of the U, is to travel through part of the new 7th District, in the center of the U.

Since Congressional Districts are supposed to be contiguous, there is no lawful explanation for the U-shaped formation, other than Republican Party politics. The new Republican map is an obvious case of gerrymandering, a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and it should be challenged and thrown out in court.

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06/22/2011

Redistricting Must Be Done Fairly

Congressional redistricting in Florida is big business, since it will divide 18,801,310 Floridians into 27 districts of roughly 696,345 each. Depending on how the Republican majorities in the state government draw the lines, the GOP could win 24 of 27, even though the number of voters supporting each party was evenly divided in the last presidential and gubernatorial elections.

If theoretically the Republicans could herd 696,345 Democrats into each of three districts from Jacksonville to Orlando, Tampa to St. Pete, and in Miami, they could quarantine off a total of 2,089,035, leaving only 7,311,620 to face 9,400,655 Republicans in the state’s remaining 24 districts.

They could then determine the number of Democrats in the other 24 districts by dividing the remaining 7,311,620 by 24, which comes to 304,650, and could apportion the Republicans per district by dividing 9,400,655 by 24, which comes to 391,693.

Since 391,693 Republicans per district would represent 56% of the vote, and 304,650 Democrats per district would be only 44% of the vote, the Republicans could win 24 districts this way, while losing only three, despite equal statewide votes for each party.

The process of manipulating districts to engineer an outcome is called gerrymandering. To be sure, Republicans will certainly engage in it, while simultaneously denying any intent to do so. Frankly, I would be shocked if each of the Congressional Districts were drawn to have 348,172 Democrats and 348,172 Republicans.

With the help of the U.S. Supreme Court in Easley v Cromartie (2001), the herding of blacks in North Carolina into one oddly-shaped gerrymandered district was approved in a 5-4 vote. Now, blacks do not object to these heavily concentrated districts, as they help their candidates score easy victories.

What they may not realize is they are being used by Karl Rove Republicans to create disproportionately more Republican seats, as explained above. The loss of Democrats in the House also affects state-wide races, like the recent U.S. Senate contest, because it reduces the number of candidates qualified to run for statewide office. In the last race, Democrat Kendrick Meek of Miami, a black man, was beaten badly in a statewide contest. The Democrats could have won that race with a stronger candidate, but their bench was weak due to gerrymandering.

When I moved to the Tampa-Bay area, I was shocked to see the extent of gerrymandering used to create a Democratic district. The blacks of St Petersburg, in Pinellas County, were combined with the non-whites of Tampa, in Hillsborough County, located clear across the Tampa Bay (body of water). This certainly explains why Republicans won most seats in the urban Tampa Bay area. Hopefully, the media will expose gerrymandering this time, and contiguous districts will be fairly drawn.