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View Diary: Gerrymandering, Electoral College by Congressional district, and the 17th Amendment. (100 comments)

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  •  The way to beat gerrymandering (22+ / 0-)

    is to take redistricting away from state legislatures. Require independent panels (if there is such a thing) or judges or university professors to do a state's redistricting. I realize that this is easier said than done, but letting state legislatures be in charge means that legislators pick their voters, not voters picking their legislators. There must be a way to fix this madness.

    •  it has recently been done successfully in (7+ / 0-)

      California.  An independent commission.

      •  Iowa too (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nycvisionary, Deejay Lyn

        "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens," -Friedrich Schiller "Against Stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in Vain"

        by pengiep on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:46:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Independent Commissions (7+ / 0-)

        I think this is the best way to combat gerrymandering.  Such a proposal was put forward in Minnesota, but swatted away by majority Republican legislators.  They lost their majority in both houses this election (because we have a D governor, so they couldn't gerrymander the districts), so Democrats could pass such a law while they have the majority.  I really think they should, because when the pendulum swings back the other way, everyone should know that the Republicans would mercilessly gerrymander everything.

        As mentioned below, gerrymanders sometimes backfire, thin margins are compromised by demographic changes, and their effect tends to weaken as time goes on, so I wouldn't give up on winning elections with the current boundaries, but Democrats need to enact the necessary changes in purple and blue states that work toward fairness.  Fairness is good for Democrats.

        •  Minnesota Redistricting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice

          I wasn't alive the last time the Minnesota legislature actually passed and had signed a redistricting plan. The courts drew the congressional lines in 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 & 2011. They drew the legislative lines in those years (with the exception of 1991, when Gov Arne Carlson was late vetoing the plan).

    •  We tried to pass it in Ohio (5+ / 0-)

      And GOP lies and secret money defeated it. I'd like to see us try it again and again and again until it passes.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:48:12 PM PST

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    •  There is no way to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fearlessfred14, Deejay Lyn, SoonerG

      "require" anything regarding redistricting under federal law, except in states and other limited areas under the Voting Rights Act through federal courts.  That does not apply, for example, anywhere in Ohio.  But without a Constitutional amendment, redistricting can't be "taken away" from the states, since it is not under federal authority (apart from conducting the decennial census).

      But certainly, non-partisan panels in the states would be preferable to partisan or even bipartisan ones.

    •  Iowa, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deejay Lyn, Justus

      Has the best system bar none. It's done by a bipartisan organization that doesn't use any political information. They also have rules governing splitting communities and counties. It is still subject to approval by the legislature and governor though, so that is one detractor. Iowa also doesn't have nearly as diverse population that would trigger VRA requirements, thus in larger states such redistricting would get more complex.

      •  Redistricting (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deejay Lyn, tle, IreGyre

        IA does have a great system; however, IA is one of the most rural states and its much harder to implement a fair system in a state with urban centers (whether or VRA requirements apply).

        In states with urban centers, we can either put the entire urban area in one district, or split the urban area into multiple districts (eg, a radial map). The former is geographical compact but unfair to the urban party since you most likely have the urban district going 80-20 one way, and the remaining districts going 55-45 the other way even if the state is a 50-50 split. The latter is more likely to represent the state fairly but violates the geographic compactness principles that are in typical guidelines for independent commissions.

        I personally like multi-seat districts, but that only applies to larger states and has its own set of problems.

        •  California managed to draw a nice map (0+ / 0-)

          and it's hardly a rural state. Their system is probably good for most urban states. For states that are highly competitive on the Presidential level (no redder than NC, no bluer than MN), I'm a fan of affirmative competition mandates to minimize the number of safe seats.

          Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison)

          by fearlessfred14 on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 09:03:08 AM PST

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          •  True, (0+ / 0-)

            But do you think some of the competitiveness in California is also a result of the Top Two Primary system?

            •  I don't think that's most of it (0+ / 0-)

              Top Two has its own benefits IMHO, and might somewhat increase competition by encouraging moderate challengers like Bloomfield, Maldo, and Peters, but even with traditional primaries those districts would be competitive (maybe not Waxman's district, but certainly Bilbray's and Capps'). Under the old map, McNerney's district would be the only competitive district whatever the primary system. The others would just be too blue or too red.

              Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison)

              by fearlessfred14 on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 02:30:58 PM PST

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          •  CA (0+ / 0-)

            CA, although not rural,  is actually a terrible example of an urban state. Most people would claim that LA and SF are CA's two urban centers - at least they are the only 2 places which have characteristics that are culturally like cities. However, SF is not even the biggest city in the bay area, population-wise, and there is much sprawl both inside and outside the triangle formed by the 3 bay area cities. Meanwhile LA is more a collection of suburban sprawl extending for miles, than a city. The rural areas of CA are also higher density than in typical rural states, due to a combination of bedroom communities and high-density immigrant labor housing.

            There aren't many states like CA (and the few are in VRA states). More common among urban states is an urban area  surrounded by a donut of outer-ring suburbs and exurbs, with the rest of the state being rural.  See Portland, Seattle, Denver, SLC, Minneapolis, Omaha,  Chicago, StLouis/KC, Pitt/Phil, NYC, Boston, etc.

        •  I agree... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think MMP is the best possible solution, but I'm not exactly sure how you implement that on the congressional level. I think you'd have to increase the size of congress. Also, MMP has the affect of making government less stable since it would be unlikely one party would control a majority of seats.

          On a separate note, the VRA redistricting requirements does more damage to the democratic party than it does to benefit them. It was a great way to get minority politicians elected during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but all it does is stall any further progress.

          •  MMP in the US (0+ / 0-)

            I think it can be done in states with more than 8 or so districts (maybe even 6 or 7). For example, consider a state with 10 districts and the following demographics (a pretty common occurrence):
              30%  Urban core (including inner-ring suburbs)
              50%  Suburbs and exurbs
              20%  Rural
            Then, you create a 3-seat circular urban district, a 5-seat suburban donut district (or 3+2) and a 2-seat rural district.

            In practice, this might mean that in a 50-50 state, you would end up with 2-3 urban liberal Ds, 1-3 suburban blue dogs, and 0-1 rural Ds that could be either populist or conservative, for a total of 3-7 Ds.

            Of course, individual states would have to tailor it to their circumstances (eg, a state whose rural population is split between farmer and ranchers may choose to not combine then, and a state with a major 2nd smaller city may have a single seat district for that city and its suburbs).

    •  Washington state has a pretty good system (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deejay Lyn, IreGyre

      The majority leaders of the State Senate and House as well as the minority leaders of each body select a member of the bipartisan commission. So you get two Democrats and two Republicans. Those four people pick a fifth person to be chairperson and to lead them (but the chairperson doesn't get a vote). The final plan requires a majority of 3 of 4. If there's no plan within the deadline, the State Supreme Court redraws the boundaries.

      There are various other rules (county boundaries and city boundaries and neighborhood boundaries should be kept intact as much as possible).

      Overall, it doesn't favor one party or the other. It's pretty fair.

      But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

      by Dbug on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:24:00 PM PST

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