Supreme Court rules against gerrymandering - "Ginsburg's opinion is now the law, and I suspect that, in a few decades, this case will be considered one of the most important of the term. Thus far, only California has copied Arizona and created an independent redistricting commission. But with the court's blessing, more states are likely to follow suit. These commissions have been hugely successful thus far, a real boost for representative democracy and a cure for the notoriously stubborn problem of gerrymandering. Had Justice Anthony Kennedy swung away from Ginsburg and aligned with his fellow conservatives, America would be facing down a distressingly undemocratic future."
This programmer thinks he's solved the gerrymandering problem. Gerrymandering has been discussed on the blue many times. But with very little eye towards solving the problem. A programmer named Brian Olsen has come up with the idea of mapping districts using compactness. It's fun! Check your state!. [more inside]
Can You Solve Slate’s Gerrymandering Jigsaw Puzzle? Put the ridiculously gerrymandered congressional districts back together. What is gerrymandering? What is the history of gerrymandering? (previously)
"Used to be that the idea was 'once every two years voters elected their representatives.' And now instead it's 'every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.'"
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority, undermined Obama's mandate, set the terms of the sequestration fight, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade. It's not a new problem. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act, it could get a whole lot worse. And the electoral college may be next. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
An opposition provincial official in a hotly contested election has threatened to arrest international election observers monitoring for fraud and voter intimidation. In an area with a rich history of secessionist fervor, ballot box stuffing, and repeated infringements on the voting rights and representation of ethnic minorities, this pronouncement is certainly controversial. Rogue vigilantes, organized in this province, are expected to deploy to polling sites across the nation, causing alarm. It is not a chaotic contest in a fledgling democracy. It is Texas, the United States. Previously. [more inside]
The League of Dangerous Mapmakers. The byzantine trade of redistricting was long dominated by brainy eccentrics like Hofeller and his Democratic counterparts. But that began to change in the 1990s, when the availability of mapping software and block-by-block census data for the whole country opened up the field to a waiting world of political geeks. The democratization of redistricting is a lovely thing, perhaps. But as one redistricting veteran told me, “There’s an old saying: Give a child a hammer, and the world becomes a nail. Give the chairman of a state redistricting committee a powerful enough computer and block-level census data, so that he suddenly discovers he can draw really weird and aggressive districts—and he will.”
A glimpse inside the Republican Party's little known Red Map Project: "Last fall, we worked together and achieved unprecedented success with the RedMap Project—an effort to capture legislative majorities across the country in preparation for the decennial redistricting process that will redraw districts for 2012 and beyond. The result was the pick up of an unprecedented 20 legislative chambers and over 700 seats." [more inside]
For serious Poli Sci junkies only: the Swing State Project is holding a contest for best redistricting of New York, using the nerdtastic Dave's Redistricting App. (Requires Silverlight, reading instructions highly recommended.) [more inside]
"Why would you need to rig the voting machines if you'd already rigged the election by making seats safe?" A new shareware game shows how drawing district lines can influence elections. Computer-aided gerrymandering has resulted in wildly shaped districts and made incumbents safer than ever, causing calls for reform. The original gerrymander is commemorated in Boston.
The Supreme Court rules that state legislatures may redistrict at any time, while not harming minorities. The ruling is heavily influenced by Vieth v. Jubelirer, a Scalia opinion based on the premise that there is no objective way to draw a district (How the Census Bureau is trying to help make one). This ends a saga including amid-decade redistricting and subsequent rebellion in the Texas Statehouse.
A memo from the Department of Justice in Texas' voting division reveals that, back in 2003 during the Texas GOP's redistricting push, the division unanimously agreed that the redistricting plan sponsored by the state GOP and Rep. Tom DeLay was illegal under the Voting Rights Act. The plan was pushed through anyway, being the most effective in securing additional House seats for the GOP.
"DeLay is doing everything moral, legal and ethical to increase the Republican majority and advance conservative ideas," says his spokesman, Stuart Roy. Heck, we already know that Tom DeLay loves the children enough to start a charitable fund to help pay for "late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises" during the 2004 GOP convention (as well as the children, of course). Now, he's connected (via an email) to Enron, asking them for extra money in order to help fund the already-notorious redistricting in Texas. When will enough be enough?
Another aide embarrasses the GOP? The WaPo reported this weekend about Joby Fortson's memo leak, and the Texas Democratic Party appears to have the whole email. While my own sensibilities are mostly offended that the U.S. Congress apparently doesn't have spell-check, it's hard nonetheless not to think also of Paul Tripplehorn's break-up and Kit Bond's aide's tacky website named for the plane that killed Dem Missouri gov Mel Carnahan. Discretion, valor, yadda.
Texas Rangers are facing a unique task. They have been sent to arrest over 50 Democrats and drag them back to Austin, TX. The problem: They've fled Texas to 'hide' in Oklahoma. The reason why they left the state? To stop a quorum on Congressional Redistricting.