Nonpartisan Redistricting
July 7, 2015 9:41 AM   Subscribe

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."
posted by kliuless (62 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
I will never get tired of their petulant minority opinions. Please keep them coming!
posted by graventy at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is really great news!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:45 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Holy. Fuck. HOLY FUCK!
posted by symbioid at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


The Supreme Court didn't rule against gerrymandering. It ruled that voters with states with the initiative system could remove the redistricting process from the Legislature and put it in the hands of an independent commission. But there's no obligation to do so.
posted by MattD at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


Wait - this still doesn't mandate independent commissions, though, does it? It's just that State Legislatures can't override the will of the people if said people want to create and independent commission. I mean, that's... good. But not quite the victory I would hope for.
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


From the smoking ruins of Wisconsinstan arises a new hope...
posted by maxwelton at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Or - what MattD said as I was typing mine.
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on July 7, 2015


I thought there was a decision last year that forbid gerrymandering on religious grounds but explicitly allowed for political reasons.
posted by sammyo at 9:49 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But with the court's blessing, more states are likely to follow suit.

More states? My state? The same state run by the people who were the ones who initially came up with the plan to make my Congressional district one which encompasses pretty much only the black/low-income urban neighborhoods of my city, with a narrow corridor of almost nothing to connect them to the black/low-income urban neighborhoods in the city nearly an hour north?

Pigs will fly, first.
posted by Sequence at 9:51 AM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Your state has a public initiative system in place. So yes, even your state. If the people have the collective will to glue the wings on the pigs, they can and will fly.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also the Supreme Court just upheld the existence of these independent commissions, not their work. That challenge is being argued next term.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I want a way to change my facebook profile pic to celebrate this.
posted by lownote at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


The same state run by the people who were the ones who initially came up with the plan to make my Congressional district

The point is that if the purpose of gerrymandering is to subvert the majority, the majority can do something about it. If your state's demographic composition is such that a simple unbounded majority of all voters would have chosen to disenfranchise that group then your problem is not gerrymandering.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, all this does is allow a possibility. It's up to the voters of each state to make the possibility real, and that probably depends on the states' laws regarding ballot initiatives. In MA, for instance, the legislature has a history of ignoring the results of ballot questions it doesn't like. That legislature represents a highly-gerrymandered state. 90%* of its members are Democrats.



* Possibly a slight exaggeration.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on July 7, 2015


Yes, but like a Brooks Brothers-clad hydra, vote suppressors are heading back to the Supreme Court next term in Evenwel v. Abbott. Their hope is now to have it mandated that only the population of eligible voters should be considered in drawing legislative districts, which would on the whole increase the political clout of whiter, more rural, more sparsely populated areas (of course).
posted by Bromius at 10:06 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am from California and Oregon, and am very proud to live in states where the ballot initiative is firmly in place, honored and respected.
posted by zagyzebra at 10:09 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait - this still doesn't mandate independent commissions, though, does it? It's just that State Legislatures can't override the will of the people if said people want to create and independent commission.

The Constitution's Elections Clause states that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for ... Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof." The Supreme Court's majority opinion decided that since the people of Arizona can pass laws directly by ballot initiatives, they count as part of "the Legislature thereof" and can delegate their power to an independent commission. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that requiring independent commissions would be unconstitutional, since it's up to each state's legislature to decide the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" (and in the states without ballot initiatives, the people might not even count as the legislature).
posted by Rangi at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Their hope is now to have it mandated that only the population of eligible voters should be considered in drawing legislative districts...

Can you explain how this is a bad thing? I guess I'm thinking specifically of districts that are in rural areas that have prisons in it - whose prisoners cannot vote... It seems obvious that those people should not count for purposes of redistricting. Similarly schools that have students from out-of-country (or people that don't aren't citizens for other reasons) should not be included in districting efforts.

Obviously there is more to this issue than I'm seeing.
posted by el io at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2015


lownote: "I want a way to change my facebook profile pic to celebrate this."

Photoshop your face on the original Gerrymander.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Virginia's gerrymandering case seems to have a very strong probability of making its way to the Supreme Court.

So far, the lower courts have landed firmly on the side of "It's blatantly illegal to organize districts solely by race," an accusation that the state Republicans don't even appear to be interested in refuting.

The Supreme court also (very weakly) sided against racial gerrymandering in Alabama earlier this year, vacating a lower court's judgement that the [gerrymandered] maps were allowed to stand.

VA Republicans opposed a plan that created a second majority-black district, even though the proposal was still ridiculously stacked in their favor. Given neither state's willingness to even pretend to draw a fair map, it seems quite likely that the Supreme Court will be required to intervene.

I wouldn't hold much hope for a sweeping ruling though -- we'd really need a constitutional amendment to fix the districting process properly.
posted by schmod at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see a "before and after" map of what gerrymandered districts look like vs what bipartisan commission districts look like.
posted by edheil at 10:13 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eagerly awaiting my opportunity to form a nonpartisan commission to allocate DC's 0 Congressional seats.
posted by schmod at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


I might have sympathized with the minority opinion that the word "Legislature" has a "plain meaning" which does not allow for the voters to bypass their state legislature, but as the Slate article points out, in context it means something more like "the Authority of making Laws," which in Arizona would include the voters. Not to mention the hypocrisy of the principles behind the dissent:
Perhaps the most galling aspect of Roberts’ dissent, though, is his casual dismissal of both democracy and federalism—the two cornerstones of his marriage equality dissent. Ginsburg writes that “our federal system” allows states to “retain autonomy to establish their own governmental processes.” She also explains that “all political power flows from the people.” To those arguments, the conservatives respond: So what? The same justices who were so devoted to democracy Friday—even a form of democracy that allows voters to trample on fundamental rights—now decide that democracy is overrated. If Arizonans are truly frustrated with gerrymandering, Roberts writes, they should pass a constitutional amendment. Never mind that the legislators who would vote on that amendment would be beneficiaries of gerrymandering and would likely see no reason to curtail it.
posted by Rangi at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (or, as I like to think of it, Ari v. Zona) is never again cited in a gerrymandering discussion, it will still be one of the most impactful decisions of this era of the Court. Because it says, in essence, that in a case where the government and the governed are in disagreement, the people win.

As noted above, the particular clause in question was "The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof..." (emphasis added). The Arizona Legislature said, "Hey, that's us! We get to do that!" The Court said, "'Legislature' doesn't mean Legislature, it means people," because (to actually quote Ginsburg):
Such preclusion would also run up against the Constitution’s animating principle that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.
That's huge, and not just regarding whether you live in the 1st Congressional District or the 2nd.
posted by Etrigan at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Such preclusion would also run up against the Constitution’s animating principle that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.

That feels moderately weak, given that the Supreme Court itself is appointed, and direct Senate elections are a relatively new thing.
posted by schmod at 10:19 AM on July 7, 2015


"I want a way to change my facebook profile pic to celebrate this."

Crop your facebook picture in the shape of your 'favorite' gerrymandered district! (Mine is the Illinois' 4th)
posted by dinty_moore at 10:20 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seems like the next logical step for the pro-gerrymander folks would be to remove or redefine ballot initiatives.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:23 AM on July 7, 2015


@el io- It would have the effect of disempowering the Latino population in areas where there is a large immigrant/non-citizen population. If some number of inhabitants of a city don't have to be counted for legislative reasons, you've also got a rationale for apportioning fewer resources to that city. The intent seems to be Republicans trying to put their fingers on the scale as much as possible.
posted by Bromius at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crop your facebook picture in the shape of your 'favorite' gerrymandered district! (Mine is the Illinois' 4th)

Ooh, the Latin Earmuffs, good choice. As a Clevelander, I'm partial to Ohio's 9th, the Mistake by the Lake.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Such preclusion would also run up against the Constitution’s animating principle that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.

That feels moderately weak, given that the Supreme Court itself is appointed, and direct Senate elections are a relatively new thing.


The Supreme Court is appointed by a person who is elected by the people and confirmed by other people who are elected by the people. Even before the mandated direct election of Senators, they were chosen by people who were elected by other people. It's voters all the way down. This decision confirms and codifies that.
posted by Etrigan at 10:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


el io,

That Atlantic Monthly piece Bromius links to above does an excellent job of explaining the issue, but as the Cato Institute's brief explicitly states, this is about race and national origin.

Essentially, this is a preemptive strike to try and brunt the demographic changes that are going to hurt Republicans soon. The real, hidden issue underlying Evenwell is Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires some states with large Latino populations to redraw districts to protect Latino voting power.

What is being argued is that when you count just population numbers, you take into account large pools of ineligible Latinos, thus diluting the power of the smaller eligible voter group, which in many places tends to be older, whiter, richer, and more likely to vote Republican. The challengers would have the Texas legislature draw districts that would result in fewer districts with majority Latino populations.

When you see you're losing the numbers game, change how the numbers are counted.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Can you explain how this is a bad thing?

It would mean that legally disenfranchised ex-felons (read: lots of black men who got felony convictions for drug-related things that white kids get warnings about) would not have any mode of representation at all, not even through their enfranchised friends and relatives. Millions of black lives would, literally, not count for anything.

Also, it would create obvious incentives to do even more egregiously disparate policing and prosecuting of black people.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:38 AM on July 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


When you see you're losing the numbers game, change how the numbers are counted.

Yep, and it's exactly the same thing with 'voter fraud' and voter id requirements, which disproportionately impact the young and poor.

If they had their druthers, I'm sure they'd bring back the poll tax and 'literacy' tests as well.

Demography is destiny, thank goodness, but that doesn't mean it won't be ugly in the interim.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:41 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If this works it's a big damn deal
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:45 AM on July 7, 2015


If they had their druthers, I'm sure they'd bring back the poll tax and 'literacy' tests as well.

Yes, they would.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:49 AM on July 7, 2015


Rock Steady, dinty_moore, Solon and Thanks I am doing something like this. I need to spend some time finding the gerrymander that really speaks to my soul, first.
posted by lownote at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ginsburg's opinion is now the law

Can we just make all laws this way?
posted by dry white toast at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


"...and that government of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shall not perish from the earth."
posted by Bromius at 11:21 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I want a way to change my facebook profile pic to celebrate this."

Crop your facebook picture in the shape of your 'favorite' gerrymandered district! (Mine is the Illinois' 4th)
"

Those profile illusion pics would be perfect for this.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would totally vote for Notorious RBG as World Boss.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


It began when voters in the state passed a ballot initiative that took congressional redistricting out of the state legislature’s hands—and handed the task over to an independent, nonpartisan commission. Before the initiative, partisan legislators gerrymandered districts to favor their own party. Once it passed, the commission created fairer districts that led to more competitive elections.

I guess I really don't see the improvement here. Solidly Red and Blue districts will become less solidly so and what will that mean? I suspect there are more solidly gerrymandered democrat districts in densely populated urban areas than there are republicans in less populated suburban districts which would make this a loser for democrats.

Indeed was not one of the central arguments in Shelby County v. Holder for ending federal review of voting districts under the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that so many districts in those states were so solidly gerrymandered as minority that changes to state voting laws could hardly have any impact? I seem to recall Democrats fearing any change to that system of gerrymandering and decrying the Supreme court decision in that case. Why all the gushing praise now?
posted by three blind mice at 11:43 AM on July 7, 2015


"I seem to recall Democrats fearing any change to that system of gerrymandering and decrying the Supreme court decision in that case. Why all the gushing praise now?"

Well, there are some who think no party should use gerrymandering to their advantage and applaud any step that makes the districting process more independent from political parties.
posted by Tehhund at 11:47 AM on July 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Well, there are some who think no party should use gerrymandering to their advantage and applaud any step that makes the districting process more independent from political parties.

Right. There's a time for using whatever tools you have available, but gerrymandering for me is in a category along with the filibuster where I'll take the lumps that come with taking away those tools from my team in order to reduce the damage done by the other team.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:50 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't like it when people game the system, but I accept the dangers of letting people's voices heard in an equitable way even if I disagree with them. I would also prefer politicians I agree with spending their time trying to reach folks rather than installing undemocratic tools to limit bloodletting.
posted by lownote at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I guess I really don't see the improvement here. Solidly Red and Blue districts will become less solidly so and what will that mean? I suspect there are more solidly gerrymandered democrat districts in densely populated urban areas than there are republicans in less populated suburban districts which would make this a loser for democrats. "

As often happens when someone living abroad regards the vagaries of American political process, you don't seem to understand how gerrymandering works, nor how citizen redistricting commissions work.

First, lovely as this decision is, gerrymandering is generally overstated in the media versus its effect on elections. Secondly, the goals of gerrymandering are threefold: To protect the majority who is deciding the districts; to protect the seats of those currently in the majority (with protected minority seats used for horse trading); and to make changing the districts difficult.

To this end, gerrymandering is most effective when it constrains the minority to overwhelmingly safe seats — grouping urban voters so that Democrats win their districts by margins of 75, 80 percent while Republicans win more districts by margins of just over 50 percent is one of the most common strategies. (I do want to point out that Democrats are not above crazy gerrymandering schemes either — Maryland is predominantly Democrat, and has crazy districts.)

This is balanced against the requirement to maintain, as closely as possible, "communities of interest," which means that you shouldn't be doing things like, say, Orange County's board of supervisors, where the Latino vote is intentionally split to be minorities in many districts instead of the majority in any.

A confounding issue is that often the conflict is not so much partisan, but rather incumbent against challenger. Both parties use redistricting to enforce party discipline, and will frequently arrange districts to be safer for longterm power brokers (and since they're safer, they're less expensive to campaign in, allowing the power broker to focus more on fundraising for other members of the party).

A couple years back, I happened to start canvassing a guy who turned out to be Gov. Jerry Brown's 2010 redistricting consultant, back while our citizen's commission was just wrapping up. Some of the interesting things I learned were:

There's a large trade-off between partisanship and expertise. Our commissioners (chosen at random from eligible applicants, then subject to strike by legislators) were mostly regular working folks who didn't have access to a lot of research skill or resources, so when they solicited public testimony for "communities of interest," a large number of 501c4 groups (basically lobbyists) astroturfed testimony that was fairly credulously taken by the commission. The commissioners were paid an honorarium, but it wasn't even a part time job for any of them in terms of hours, so expecting them to critically evaluate the claims of paid bullshitters was dubious.

The Democrats supermajority in California is largely due to the commission. Despite being bipartisan (five each Democrat and Republican; four decline-to-state or other party), the mandate to promote competitive districts led to far, far more of them being essentially safe Democratic districts than even Brown's own people had hoped for. In order to pass the plan in the legislature, the Democrats would have had to trade off far more safe Republican seats (and there was no way that the Republicans would give the supermajority to the Dems), but since the commission was nominally unconcerned with that, Democrats got a huge windfall — which is what basically helped us get out of the Great Recession (despite the doom and gloom bullshit from austerity yobbos). Sometimes reflecting the state's political demography can be incredibly partisan while also being procedurally fair — I would expect a redistricting committee in Indiana to give the GOP a lock on the statehouse too.

So it was kind of fun talking to the guy about the dissonance: He was pretty contemptuous of the intelligence of the commissioners and their ability to recognize specious claims of, say, pro-casino lobbyists or Big Ag districts claiming heretofore unknown ethnic enclaves, but the results were better than he could have even imagined, so he was willing to take it.

I do think that doing things like increasing the funding for the commission and assigning a couple of staff (likely the same folks who audit legislative proposals) would help significantly, but in general I'm a big fan of this even though the political parties loathe it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on July 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


To this end, gerrymandering is most effective when it constrains the minority to overwhelmingly safe seats — grouping urban voters so that Democrats win their districts by margins of 75, 80 percent while Republicans win more districts by margins of just over 50 percent is one of the most common strategies.

To wit, Michigan, a state that hasn't gone Republican for a president since GHWB, has been thoroughly gerrymandered. In the 2014 Congressional election in Michigan, Democratic candidates won 51 percent of the votes and 5 out of 14 seats. Only 2 of those 9 Republicans got more than 60 percent of the vote. All 5 of the Democrats got more than 60 percent of the vote, and two of them got more than 75 percent.
posted by Etrigan at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


This has been huge for CA, giving a big edge to the Dems here. Personally, I went from Ted Cruz-crazy reps to solidly liberal ones. Yay!

Next term the court will rule on representation by person vs. by voter. It's currently the former. If they decide on the latter, it will shift power to rural, whiter, and more conservative areas.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:26 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, as klangklangston said about CA above.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:28 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iowa has had a good system for decades. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency comes up with proposed redistricting maps using defined criteria, perhaps with some assistance from a citizen commission. I think the legislature then has to vote the map up or down. If they reject it, the LSA proposes another one. I think the legislature only gets to amend or create its own plan if it rejects three successive LSA-proposed plans, which hasn't happened. The process is non-partisan and avoids gerrymandering. (Iowa is often years or decades ahead of California on important issues, but no one outside the Midwest much notices.)
posted by Area Man at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Good news from the third branch came in threes this spring. I'm deeply excited for this one.
posted by Dashy at 3:59 PM on July 7, 2015


How does one keep the redistricting commissions accountable? If, as a voter, I don't like the results of the commission, what's my recourse? I can campaign against a politician, but what about a redistricting commissioner?

I was curious about how this would work in my own state, but I couldn't figure out how to keep the commission honest, accountable, and non-partisan in the long term. It seemed like it could all be gamed by different groups and the end result would just be more gerrymandering, but this time without any kind of review process.
posted by fremen at 5:36 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




How does one keep the redistricting commissions accountable? If, as a voter, I don't like the results of the commission, what's my recourse? I can campaign against a politician, but what about a redistricting commissioner?

In the case of Arizona, it's a pretty involved process that involves the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments (itself officially nonpartisan) that ensures the chair of the redistricting commission is an independent. It could be gamed, but it would be damn difficult.
posted by Etrigan at 6:34 PM on July 7, 2015


On that note, fffm, it's worth noting that as of election day this coming October, Calgary Southwest is no more. *crosses fingers*
posted by Sys Rq at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As of election day this October, Canada as we know it may be no more. Here's hoping that's because we have Prime Minister Beardo, and not a rerun of Prime Minister Beigeshirt.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:39 PM on July 7, 2015


I guess I really don't see the improvement here. Solidly Red and Blue districts will become less solidly so and what will that mean?

Just from an actual governance perspective, it'd be swell if the person representing me in the the House of Representatives was also representing my actual community, people who live in the same general area as I do and who are thus likely to have a vested interest in how our area is doing.

Like, say, how my Congressional district used to be before the latest round of gerrymandering horseshit;

Ohio Congressional District 10 as it existed pre-2011 - the western half of Cleveland & the western and southern suburbs.

Current Ohio Congressional District 9 - an unholy Frankenstein (created by the Republicans in the Ohio Congress entirely for vote-fuckery) that stretches across six counties along the edge of Lake Erie, from Cleveland to Toledo. I'm sure Sandusky Ohio is full of lovely people, but you'd better believe that a small tourist town on the edge of farmland is gonna have an entirely different set of priorities than people whose lives revolve around a large urban metropolitan area.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:16 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, mine's pretty bad too: Texas District 21. Huge areas of rural and white flight suburbs, and then it snakes into both San Antonio and Austin to isolate just enough Dirty Fucking Hippies to make our votes irrelevant. Note how it very carefully avoids most of San Marcos, because that'd tip it too far into DFH territory.

From a gerrymandering standpoint the optimum district for your side is a district that *just barely* tips to your party, while the optimum district for your opponent's site is going to be close to 100% their voters. Concentrate the other party to the maximum extent possible, spread your party to the maximum extent possible, and you too can have a nation where despite 53% of the voters voting for party A, the legislature is overwhelmingly party B.

Mind, while fixing the districts is something I fully support, I'm more in favor of just abandoning geographic representation, or at the very least including some non-geographic representation. Why should by only voice in government be determined entirely by where I live?
posted by sotonohito at 5:58 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the smoking ruins of Wisconsinstan arises a new hope...

Independently-drawn districts would of course be a great thing, but that's totally separate from the state's astounding willingness to screw itself. Wisconsin's voters had a chance to prevent the destruction of their labor sector, turn back the gutting of their public education system, and remove the reins of power from the textbook definition of a corporate puppet that is Scott Walker, twice. They decided not to in all cases. As I said with Florida's rollicking brilliant decision to give Rick Scott, an actual supervillain, another four years, my hope for the voters of that state flew out the window at the pace of a shuttle re-entry, hand-in-hand with my sympathy for them. Maybe try actually voting next time, guys.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:30 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, oh, I have one: our old NY 22 district, which snaked along the bottom of the state through Republican territory and then reached up to give liberal hippie socialist Ithaca the finger. Just look at it!

After the 2010 census we've been redistricted into NY 23 - still represented by a Republican, but at least the district shape is not egregiously awful.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2015


XQUZYPHYR, why stop there? Let's do generalize to the US as a whole and a number of other nations. There are so many people who can be written off.
posted by The Gaffer at 2:14 PM on July 8, 2015


Your state has a public initiative system in place. So yes, even your state. If the people have the collective will to glue the wings on the pigs, they can and will fly.

I'm not trying to be glib when I say that describing that effort as "collective will" is very much like talking about losing weight as though willpower was the only thing involved. It oversimplifies to a ridiculous degree. The people whose votes are reduced in value by Ohio's gerrymandering are incredibly weighted towards being lower income, less educated, more likely to already be struggling against systematic prejudices. Yes, great, tell all the people whose major concerns are stuff like actually being able to afford groceries that it's their job to actually push through a ballot initiative against the active opposition of corporations that would stand to lose millions if the state adopts a less business-friendly tax policy. That wouldn't be a giant waste of time or anything.

The initiative system is a nice idea, but it is not a reasonable expectation that marginalized groups will be able to use it to maintain their rights. Popular votes already disfavor minority interests; that only gets worse when one side has all the cash.
posted by Sequence at 5:35 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, great, tell all the people whose major concerns are stuff like actually being able to afford groceries that it's their job to actually push through a ballot initiative against the active opposition of corporations that would stand to lose millions if the state adopts a less business-friendly tax policy. That wouldn't be a giant waste of time or anything.

I'm pretty sure that isn't how the ballot initiative should be worded.
posted by hippybear at 1:46 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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