A Computer Alone Can Not Gerrymander

SUMMARY:

“Only 24 out of 435 Congressional districts are considered “competitive.”

Competition in 5.5% of races can NOT yield a functioning democratic republic.

PA’s voters could just as easily be divided to yield 13-5 Congressional districts, favoring either party.  OR, we could be split 9-9. Each of the three scenarios can be done without moving any of the people. Each is non-representative.

Then Amanda Holt – a school teacher by herself using freeware – created a fair map, which would represent folks in compact regions (as required).

I prefer no one make a map, but a computer do it, as Iowa has wisely done for years, which I compare to the other 4 maps. Holt’s type of map is my second preferred. Those two are constitutional, the ones favoring either of the only two teams at the table 13-5 or 5-13 are not, nor is the one arbitrarily forced to split 9-9.

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PA State Senator Daylin Leach’s Facebook page features a graphic. His explanation of that graphic was: “On top is the actual, GOP-made gerrymander of PA Congressional Districts. 13-5 Republican. Below is a drawing I did of a legal 13-5 Democratic gerrymander. I flipped 8 Congressional seats with every single PA voter voting exactly the same way. So who here is relevant, the voter? Or the guy drawing the lines?”

Leach later added Option “3) a Brand New map I drew 9-9 which shows what districts that actually represent the breakdown of the state and are compact and contiguous look like.”

Leach PA Congressional Districts

Leach PA Congressional Districts

Well, as much as I like Sen Leach and all…the answer for all three maps is “the guy drawing the lines.” None do a thing to ensure most appropriate representation of We The People; all ensure only most advantage to They The Only Two Parties Invited. I would like to see the most non-partisan and impartial way to meet each redistricting rule, with equal population, and minimal splits to counties and municipalities.

Compare both to Amanda Holt’s map, available with narrative describing methodology and references here: http://amandae.com/files/redistricting_congressional.pdf

Image

Holt PA Congressional Districts

Her Redistricting Proposal Overview is: “The purpose of this system is to provide a non-partisan and impartial way to meet each redistricting rule. It achieves equal population (as defined by the Supreme Court) with minimal splits to counties, municipalities, etc. (as required by PA Constitution). The only considerations used are population totals and political subdivisions. The method leaves out the data that causes a more partisan and biased view of redistricting (like the residence of incumbents, prior district boundaries, political affiliation of residents, etc.)”

http://amandae.com/2011/09/28/redistricting-proposal-overview/

Even that is drawn by a human though, so limited to some level of bias we each have and can not escape. I prefer IA’s approach. See my LTE to PennLive.com, Harrisburg’s regional newspaper, and the discussion following it, in the Comments section:

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/05/redistricting_gerrymandering_iowa_solution.html

In IA, a computer makes it using only population data, or ‘head counts’; it doesn’t have voting/registration info input. The elected humans then accept or reject the map, but can never tweak it. If rejected, the computer makes another with demo data. No limit to how many times humans can reject.  Here is what they are blessed with:

Iowa Congressional Districts

Iowa Congressional Districts

THAT is the only way to go.  Why? Before rushing to blame the majority party, in the 2012 PA case Republicans, just as often the only other team allowed at the table, remember: No gerrymander could work without the buy-in of the minority party leadership:

“In the House, the bill could not have passed without Democratic support — 16 of 92 voted ‘yes’”

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/03/pa_democrats_helped_gop_in_ger.html

March 31, 2015 UPDATE – How Bad is Gerrymandering in the USA?

A recent analysis breaks states down by how Gerrymandered each is:

Gerrymander Analysis

To demonstrate how gerrymandering may be skewing the popular preferences in almost half our states. I’ve sorted the tabular results by Presidential result and Congressional Party Advantage. In 22 of our 50 states, the popular vote for 2012 President was counter to the Congressional Advantage. In 17 of those gerrymandering favors the GOP – that is: the Median Congressional District is Republican, while the popular Presidential vote went Democratic. In the other 5 states, gerrymandering favors the Democratic Party:

Red State went Republican, Red % indicates GOP Congressional Advantage
MI – 12.7%
WI – 10.4%
OH – 10.1%
PA – 9.9%
NY – 8.9%
MN – 6.6%
MA – 6.3%
FL – 5.6%
OR – 5.4%
VA – 5.3%
CT – 4.0%
WA – 2.0%
NJ – 1.7%
NV – 0.9%
IL – 0.5%
ME – 0.3%
CO – 0.3%
WV – 0.1%
UT – 0.2%
KS – 2.3%
NE – 5.2%
AZ – 6.5%

In 2014, The Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States found that “Over 90 percent of the U.S. House districts are rigged to be non-competitive.” Such was cited as the finding of the Electoral Integrity Project sponsored by the University of Sydney in Australia, which included “over fourteen hundred international election experts.”

Perhaps this helped lead Former US President Jimmy Carter to his conclusion. In 2013, Carter told Der Spiegel that the United States of America “has no functioning democracy.”

Electoral Integrity Project Analysis

July 6 UPDATE: We Are The Example

And, surprising no one, The Washington Post uses PA as their example of what not to do:

“In the real world, this is similar to what we see in Pennsylvania. In 2012, Democrats won 51 percent of the popular House vote. But the only won 5 out of 18 House seats — fewer than one third. This was because when Pennsylvania Republicans redrew the state’s Congressional districts, they made highly irregular districts that look like the one below, PA-7, one of the most geographically irregular districts in the nation.”

What Not To Do

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About steventodd

Both parties are broken by big money...what to do? I'm a dad, husband, son, taxpayer, voter, civil engineer, reporter, blogger, rabble-rouser and honest guy.
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