Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gerrymandering headed to the Supremes again

A three judge panel (implies it was from a federal Circuit Court) struck down the GOP-drawn map for the state Assembly as unconstitutional gerrymandering. The GOP will appeal this case to the Supremes. Previously, the Supremes said they don’t like gerrymandering but they didn’t have a way to definitively tell whether it exists. This case is important because it comes with a way to measure gerrymandering. I explain the measuring here.

Perhaps a month ago I saw a link to a project done by Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos on gerrymandering. He and his team created a map of the current Congressional district boundaries, the ones drawn after the 2010 Census which were heavily gerrymandered by the GOP. Wolf and his team then created a second map based on the 2010 census data and current procedures for creating an unbiased map. Comparing how the 2012 election would have played out under both maps the team concluded that gerrymandering by itself was the reason why the GOP took the House that year.

Wolf says the priority for his rules in drawing a map are:
* Ignoring partisanship.
* Compliance with the Voting Rights Act's demand for majority-minority districts.
* Utilizing communities of interest like shared culture, economic class, etc.
* Minimization of unnecessary county and municipality splits.
* Geographic compactness. Not mathematically minimizing district boundary length, but drawing districts so that they don't combine disparate parts of intrastate regions.

You can peruse the maps yourself. The official, fully gerrymandered map is here. The revised map, having no force of law, is here. Let your inner nerd have some time to play. A description of the Midwest states and how the revised map would affect them is here. In Michigan the 9-5 delegation favoring the GOP would, under the revised map, either be a 7-7 tie or be 6-8 in favor of the Dems.

Lately, this DK team has been highlighting individual highly gerrymandered districts. Some of them are quite bizarre. For example, the Louisiana 6th district is here.

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