How gerrymandering distorts elections

Gerrymandering is an American tradition that has been around since Governor Gerry (look it up). Like the Electoral College, it’s a great way to make sure the will of the people is ignored.

In some states, they have passed laws to prevent it as much as possible by keeping politics out of it.

Anyway, a new study has been done which shows what the last election would be like if all states used that procedure. Surprise! The Democrats would have won the House. OK, it’s not really a surprise, because more people voted for Democrats in the House races than Republicans.

Check out this study. Yes, it’s on a liberal blog, but the math looks good.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/22/1201551/-Did-Gerrymandering-Cost-Dems-the-House-A-33-State-Look-at-Alternative-Non-Partisan-Maps

7 thoughts on “How gerrymandering distorts elections

  1. Yeah. So? You or I could write a program which could “walk” the electoral wards within a state until it has created compact, contiguous districts within some tolerance of equal population per district (and we could make it +/- 1 person if we were allowed to subdivide wards). At least, I could; I don’t know your programming abilities.

    And I bet somebody would howl at the “unfairness” of it, despite a complete and utter lack of addressing the political party populations within any given ward. It would be “unfair” precisely _because_ I didn’t address the political affiliations, ethnic backgrounds, per capita incomes, or anything else. I would certainly have broken up some previous districts, which others would find “unfair” because their beloved representative is no longer in their district.

    You might argue that my complete blindness to everything except “how many people are represented at the time of the census” is _more_ fair than any other form. But you’ll have an argument on your hands from many other political factions.

    You might argue that partisan gerrymandering based on the current composition of the state legislature is the least fair. And you may be right, for your definition of “fairness”. But any alternative you propose will meet very strong opposition, including from the people you’re serving.

    Just a warning.

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  2. You don’t always need math. Sometimes they get so cocky the map makes it obvious. Like when they tried to make Doggett’s district a thin, straight line that takes about three freeway hours from Austin to Houston. Some aren’t as obvious. Even if it didn’t take the supposedly democrat voters of East Austin and the supposedly republican voters of a Houston suburb, it would be hard to represent the interests of the hill country, the coast and the distance between… Which is the entire purpose of electing officials by region.

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