Friday, January 25, 2013

Time to Worry about Gerrymandering

The Republicans who control Virginia's legislature have brought forward a plan to thwart the will of their voters and hand their electoral votes to a Republican candidate. Their scheme is to apportion the state's electoral votes according to which candidate wins each Congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska already do. The things is, Virginia's districts are so savagely Gerrymandered that this would give a Republican candidate a crushing advantage. As Dave Weigel  notes, this plan
is even less democratic than other vote-split schemes. Most of these bills assign one electoral vote for every congressional district, then give the two at-large districts to whoever wins the state. But the Carrico bill would assign the final two electors to whoever won the most districts.  . . . Had the Carrico plan been in place in 2012, Romney would have won nine of Virginia's electoral votes, and Obama would have won four -- even though Obama won the popular vote of the state by nearly 150,000 ballots and four percentage points.
And as I understand it, this is perfectly constitutional. The Constitution says quite plainly that it is up to each state to decide how to hold its Presidential election and apportion its votes. And Virginia isn't the only state; Republicans are at least talking about doing the same thing in all the states that Obama won but where they control the legislature, notably Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

It's time to get serious about fighting the Gerrymandering of Congressional districts. Nobody has done anything about this before, because both parties do it when they can, and most people just roll their eyes about politicians acting like they always do. But if this scheme spreads, it could render Presidential elections moot. They would be decided in advance by state house elections; in each battleground state, the party that controlled the first session after the census would carve up the state in ways that would guarantee their Presidential candidate the majority of votes, and the whole thing would be over for a decade no matter what the voters think on election day.

And, you know, I don't understand why Gerrymandering is constitutional. It is a clear attempt to thwart the will of the people, and it works pretty well. In California, Democrats used to have the district lines drawn so well that they could get a veto-proof 67% of the legislature with only 51% of the votes. If we care about our votes, we need to start working now to insure that they are not stolen by these schemes.

1 comment:

pootrsox said...

Well said!

As a new "come-here" to VA's mostly very rural district 1, I know my vote will be negated every election if the proposed electoral award system goes in.

It's time for non-partisan, unaffiliated commissions to set district boundaries, based on a balance of geographic proximity and population.