August 21, 2003


Grim suggests a fairly bone-headed idea for non-partisan districting. To be fair, at least he's thinking about the problem, which is more than our elected representatives are doing. (OK, they're thinking about the problem, too, but about how to take advantage of it rather than how to solve it.)

I am glad that Grim is at least trying to address the problem. Still, there are several reasons that the idea is bone-headed. First, it takes no account of existing political or geographic boundaries, which means that there is no way of keeping constituencies with similar interests together. Second, choosing a point and drawing the lines in the correct way will still provide an ability to somewhat rig the boundaries. Third, the proposal takes no account of the role of the courts in recent redistricting battles (what's to prevent the courts from throwing out the plan altogether and choosing their own initial point and radial increments?). Fourth, the suggestion lets the legislature off the hook. Finally, any legislation that relies on telling people to act in any way other than their best interests, and which would fail if people do act in their best interests, is destined to fail.

I proposed a solution over at Aubrey Turner's blog, in this comments to this post. Here is my full comment:

I've been thinking about this lately, too, and here's what I came up with:

1. All districts must be equal in population, using the US Census data, within 1% of the average of all districts. (That is to say, if the average is 1,345,038 people per district, no district may be larger than 1,358,488 people, nor smaller than 1,331,587 people.
2. The sum of the lengths of all inter-district boundaries must be a minima, except that the boundaries can be adjusted to match existing geographical or political boundaries.
3. No redistricting plan passed by the legislature can be challenged in court, except on a violation of either or both of the first two points, and then only if the plan passed by less than a 2/3 vote. The court's sole discretion would be to declare the plan invalid and require the legislature to re-address the issue.
4. Failure of the legislature to pass a redistricting plan within one year of the need originally arising, would result in the legislature being disbanded, a special election called, and the former members of the legislature being ineligible to stand for re-election.

This would create a process whereby the legislature's ability to play partisan politics over this issue would be reduced, the court's ability to declare a solution would be reduced, and the people would be given the final appeal should the process break down. (At the very least, the idiots not doing their job would get thrown out.)

This idea might, of course, also be bone-headed, and I could just be missing it, but I do think it a better solution than anything else I've yet seen proposed.

Posted by Jeff at August 21, 2003 05:16 PM | Link Cosmos

Just wanted to say you have had some excellent posts running lately - especially " Aftermath ". Keep up the good work !

Posted by: mark safranski on August 21, 2003 11:02 PM
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