Gerrymandering is in the news this week. Michigan’s effort at redistricting its federal and state legislative districts was so unconstitutional that 9 congressional seats and 25 state seats were invalidated. It took the three judge panel a mere 146 pages to explain. But I’m still confused what makes a district illegal or legal.
First, while this case involved Republicans doing the gerrymandering, I have noted over the years that both parties engage in the charade that is redistricting. Here is the general way to win more seats. Give the opposition a few districts and load those districts with lots of Democrats. Then in the remaining districts make those Republican leaning. Spread out your party’s influence for a decade all because of computer generated data that predicts voter behavior. Michigan purportedly made 5 “safe” Dem seats and 9 “safe” GOP seats. Yet Dems won two of those GOP seats in last years election. So much for that well oiled plan!
So how illegal is gerrymandering? In March the Supreme Court had oral arguments in Maryland and North Carolina redistricting cases and there seemed to be a reluctance on the bench to a bright line rule about what is legal on redistricting lines. A decision is due in October.
Elections have consequences. Those lines will be drawn again every ten years. However, it does seem unfair to put a Democrat in a 75% GOP district for example. But if you choose to live in Atlanta, be prepared for Democrats to control your government. In Houston County, it’d be Republican control of your government.
The weakest argument used by opponents of gerrymandering is that voters will think their vote doesn’t count. I disagree because we have always been told that every vote counts. Otherwise, why vote? I’ve voted for many losing candidates over the years. Does that mean my vote didn’t count?
Some states, including Michigan, have moved or are moving to independent commissions to draw the lines. I’m sure that will take politics out of it, right?