Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Thursday, July 06, 2006


An op-ed in the Strib caught my eye today. It has to do with the Supreme Court decision last week regarding the Texas redistricting that helped Republicans to three additional house seats.
The Texas plan at issue in this case was unusual in one respect. Reapportionments normally take place only once every decade -- following the census. But Texas Republicans, after gaining control of the Legislature in 2003, decided there was no need to wait till 2010.
Republicans would answer that it took them an unfair amount of time to win the Legislature because of how well the Democrats had gerrymandered the state before them. And they're right to the extent that gerrymandering is a bi-partisan tactic. And what makes that so bad is that both parties are very good at it. The op-ed states that only five out of 392 incumbents lost in 2004 elections. Minnesota's switch from 5 DFL/3 GOP to four of each was seen as the effect of fair redistricting.
So what should we do? The Iowa plan is usually held up as a model. Their method is pretty good:
The centerpiece of the redistricting provisions are the redistricting principles which specifically forbid the use of political affiliation, previous election results, the addresses of incumbents, or any demographic information other than population.
They've also made a point of staying away from irregularly shaped counties. Which helps.

The sad truth is that gerrymandering is a bipartisan game. Another sad truth is that columnists only seem concerned when Republicans do it. I'd like to see the Iowa process copied around the nation. Let the chips fall where they may!


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