districts

That's Gerrymandering

From C4AF's Eric Loftke, that's Gerrymandering with a hard G:

Gerrymandering goes far to explain why dissatisfaction is so high, debate is so partisan and problems so unsolved. An elected official in a seat designed for safe reelection need do nothing else. Politicians in gerrymandered districts pick their constituents, not the other way around.

I especially like the scene with Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative describing a city council seat in tiny Anamosa, Iowa. The council member is elected with only two votes, his neighbor and his wife. Everyone else who makes up his districts is in a nearby prison. They can’t vote but they still count for purposes of political apportionment. Prison-based gerrymandering brings “representation without population,” Wagner complains.

I learned something else about gerrymandering. I’ve been saying it wrong, all these years (though I probably still will). It’s pronounced with a hard G, named after colonial era governor Elbridge Gerry, hard G, who redrew his state’s district lines in 1812 to secure party advantage. A period newspaper observed that the district map looked like a salamander, and dubbed it a “Gerry-mander.”

And with another Census recently behind us... A little reminder that s/he who controls redistricting controls the future of voting results to a large degree. Just ask Tom DeLay. Even if his efforts were pretty darned illegal when taken on its proven face value: