Because you do Need To Know what is at stake on Tuesday: Redistricting and Gerrymandering

The most recent Census is behind us which puts the importance of the upcoming election's importance front and center. And, more importantly, what the results of the this election can do to your future vote. Right now it is all about one thing:

Redistricting across the nation.

It happens after every Census and it can decide whether to keep the district lines fairly and reasonably drawn... OR it can amplify or drown your voice in future elections. It is that big a deal. I wrote on this a short while back - foreshadowing the importance that it would have now, Now, NOW!

Dive in for more on both Redistricting and the inevitable Gerrymandering that results below...

This weekend, PBS's Need To Know did a great report on the Redistricting political battle and Gerrymandering including the likes of well known political strategists like the Republican operative, Ed Gillespie, and the Democratic operative, Harold Ickes, spelling out their strategy to help each side gain an upper hand in deciding how and IF your future vote will count.

Drawing the lines: Parties fight for redistricting power

The stakes in this midterm election are especially high because it’s a census year. States will keep, gain or lose seats in the House of Representatives based on population shifts. For example, Ohio is expected to lose two of its House seats; Texas could pick up as many as four.

But this isn’t simply a matter of counting noses. It’s a matter of hard-nosed politics. If one party can gain control of the state legislature, it can — and often does — redraw the lines to cut out certain groups who might not be reliable supporters, thereby making it easier for its own candidates to win.

This year is especially challenging because there is so much money pouring into races more or less anonymously, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign funding.

We traveled to Ohio where a  little local race has gotten some very big Washington players involved.

Drawing the lines

Need to Know investigates the fight to redraw congressional district lines, and interview two of the biggest figures in that battle: Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Harold Ickes.

Kudos to the Need to Know staff for doing this report because it is one of the most important and informative stories I have seen on a very real issue that is important in this election cycle, the results of which will be felt for the next decade. It gets to the heart of a real issue and keeps the horse race aspect in a sideline perspective that it should be viewed as.

Some "I told ya so" (JK) from ePM's archives including a bit of video on "Prison Based Gerrymandering" and more Gerrymandering basics below.

That's Gerrymandering

June 14, 2010 - 21:34 - By ConnecticutMan1

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:

The Supreme Court agreed this week to review Texas' 2003 Congressional redistricting, which added five Republicans to the state's delegation. The plan, engineered by the former House majority leader Tom DeLay, is rightly being challenged as partisan and discriminatory against minority voters. It is encouraging that the court has decided to step in.

Mr. DeLay's 2003 redrawing of Texas' Congressional district lines threw aside the longstanding tradition that new lines are drawn only every 10 years, after the census. The purpose of this heavy-handed line-drawing was purely to increase the number of Republican districts. It worked. The number of Republicans in the delegation went to 21 from 16, helping to entrench Mr. DeLay as majority leader.

But we suffer under the 3 branches of corporatism so illegal does not always mean much when there is a buck to be made and a corporation to back you on anything you do in order for them to get their way. Add to that near ZERO checks and balances to the real equation because of those entrenched corprate special interests in all 3 branches.

Keep redistricting in mind as you watch the next election cycle unfold.

The trailer for the upcoming documentary "Gerrymandering" below.

"Surprisingly bi-partisan, this sharp documentary convincingly argues that the shady process of gerrymandering (politicians carving up districts in order to maintain power) makes a mockery of democracy—with confirmation from both sides of the political divide. Somehow, out of all that depressing news comes an exceptionally entertaining film. [Critic's Pick]"— Bilge Ebiri, NEW YORK MAGAZINE

On "Prison Based Gerrymandering":

And... Gerrymandering 101:

[ed note - CM1] Originally posted on 2010-10-31 13:04:15 -0400. Bumped and promoted with a fresh time-stamp, modified title and minor edits in post to change where the fold is.

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The Real Prize Tuesday

Forget the Senate and House. That's short-term thinking. The real prize in Tuesday's midterm elections is the power to draw congressional seats and determine the country's balance of power for the next decade.

If either party can achieve what politicos call the "trifecta"—control of the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature—in a given state, it will be able to draw congressional districts within that state unencumbered by any need to compromise with the other party. That's the kind of power that creates electoral maps like the one former GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay helped bring to Texas in 2003—a map that pushed four of the state's Democrats out of their seats.

Five states bordering the Great Lakes—Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are the central battleground in the fight to control

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson