February 2011 Archives

Big chances to change redistricting this year...

...assuming we can take advantage of them.

State legislatures are preparing to conduct their decennial redistricting processes, now that the data from the last census has been processed. In states where the legislature does it directly, the result is known to be far less than fair for its constituents, in that either one party tries to take control of an "unfair" number of seats (remember the Oklahoma exodus!) or the incumbents on both sides work to protect their own re-election prospects (some people have all the luck).

There is hope that a bipartisan commission, whose members cannot run for office in their newly drawn districts, would be able to break the easily recognizable incumbency advantage and, from there, create a map that would be fairer to all parties. But how likely is this? In fact, there seems to have been very little difference in the maps produced by commissions and by legislatures in terms of the absolute performance of electoral systems, or in the change in their performance after redistricting has taken place.

Read all about it in my "editorial" paper that proposes questions about the redistricting process that commissions should be asking to guide their work this year. Not easy to publish a paper of questions unless you're near or past retirement age, let alone when those questions come from null results!