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Author Topic:   Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression
Taq
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Posts: 7971
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


(1)
Message 16 of 38 (856196)
06-28-2019 11:52 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by Faith
06-28-2019 3:05 AM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
Faith writes:

Discussions I've been hearing say the determination of the boundaries of districts is strictly a state matter and a political matter, and that's why the court didn't rule on it. A Republican state government is perfectly free to determine whatever boundaries they ****, even to benefit the Republican party, and likewise in a Democratic controlled state government the boundaries can be chosen to benefit that party.

The larger discussion is if this behavior is good for democracy. Should politicians be allowed to gerrymander districts, no matter their party affiliation? Personally, I think the voters should stand up and demand fair districts.


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Taq
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Posts: 7971
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 17 of 38 (856198)
06-28-2019 11:58 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by Sarah Bellum
06-28-2019 11:24 AM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
Sarah Bellum writes:

There will always be some attempt at gerrymandering, whether it is partisan gerrymandering or affirmative action gerrymandering in an attempt to produce a district that will have a majority of voters from a disadvantaged group or just plain political horsetrading by incumbents desperate to keep their seats.

It doesn't have to be that way. You can have a council of non-politicians that draw district boundaries.


This message is a reply to:
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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6692
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 5.8


(2)
Message 18 of 38 (856201)
06-28-2019 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Faith
06-28-2019 3:05 AM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
Hi, Faith.

There is nothing illegal about this....

That is true, especially since the Supreme Court decided that it isn't illegal.

But to repeat Taq's point, there is also another question: is it ethically right? Even though it's legal, is it really okay for politicians to do this? Or is it a scummy thing to do? When a politician advocates and engages in this kind of extreme, blatant gerrymanding, do we just shrug our shoulders and say, "Oh well," or should we be outraged by it? Should our answer depend on whether it's our side which does it, or whether it's our side which is the victim?

Edited by Chiroptera, : Typo.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Another typo.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

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NosyNed
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Posts: 8848
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


(1)
Message 19 of 38 (856209)
06-28-2019 2:01 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Taq
06-28-2019 11:52 AM


What's Right...
Slowly we seem to be arriving at the important, fundamental point: Is the US not "of the people, by the people and for the people". Does anyone here want the system changed so each individual doesn't have a right to vote as they choose and have that vote be as effective as anyone else's.

If any of you Americans are truly patriotic and concerned about your country you'd be outraged by all this shit.


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Sarah Bellum
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Posts: 224
Joined: 05-04-2019
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 20 of 38 (856213)
06-28-2019 2:10 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Taq
06-28-2019 11:58 AM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
Oh indeed, and some states have tried for nonpartisan committees. But there's always the temptation for people to try to influence things. How are the committees selected in the first place, for example? What about the people who (allegedly) have upright motives for building gerrymandered districts, such as those designed to give disadvantaged groups more representation?
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Taq
Member
Posts: 7971
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 21 of 38 (856215)
06-28-2019 3:10 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by NosyNed
06-28-2019 2:01 PM


Re: What's Right...
Slowly we seem to be arriving at the important, fundamental point: Is the US not "of the people, by the people and for the people". Does anyone here want the system changed so each individual doesn't have a right to vote as they choose and have that vote be as effective as anyone else's.

It's also driven by modern technology and advanced analytics combined with modern polling data. Parties can carve up states with fine precision in a way that couldn't be done before.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 7971
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 4.6


(1)
Message 22 of 38 (856216)
06-28-2019 3:13 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by Sarah Bellum
06-28-2019 2:10 PM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
Sarah Bellum writes:

How are the committees selected in the first place, for example? What about the people who (allegedly) have upright motives for building gerrymandered districts, such as those designed to give disadvantaged groups more representation?

My first instinct is to use the judicial branch, but there are states that elect judges and law enforcement officials so I don't know how well that would work.

We could take advantage of modern technology and use AI to draw the districts. Just a thought.


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Sarah Bellum
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Posts: 224
Joined: 05-04-2019
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 23 of 38 (856222)
06-28-2019 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Taq
06-28-2019 3:13 PM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
It's never going to be easy to set up a fair system. Kenneth Arrow showed (in the context of voting, not in drawing districts) the ideal system itself is impossible.
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Theodoric
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Posts: 6393
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 24 of 38 (856243)
06-28-2019 8:00 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Sarah Bellum
06-28-2019 4:05 PM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
But we can expect as fair as possible. Arrow's theorem has nothing to do with drawing districts.

Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

"God did it" is not an argument. It is an excuse for intellectual laziness.

If your viewpoint has merits and facts to back it up why would you have to lie?


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LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 1458
Joined: 12-22-2015


Message 25 of 38 (856244)
06-28-2019 8:23 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Taq
06-28-2019 3:10 PM


Re: What's Right...
quote:

t's also driven by modern technology and advanced analytics combined with modern polling data. Parties can carve up states with fine precision in a way that couldn't be done before.

Computer programs were used as far back as 1990. These districts literally need to have an equal number of citizens (off by no more than 1 or 2), and even with that (seeming) massive difficulty, Texas Democrats were able to draw districts that gave them 70% of the state legislature, state Senate, and about 65% of the United States congressional seats in 1992. (Republicans won over 50% of the voters but only got 30% of seats)

Republicans still flipped the gerrymandered seats.

That was Texas.

Look at California.

Seats were drawn to protect incumbents there.

Asians still voted 76% for Republicans in 1992.

(Muslims and Arabs still voted about 70% GOP as late as 2000)

Hispanics turned out in lower numbers.

Things got turned on their head.

(Asians went from voting 60-40 pro-GOP in 2004 to about 60-40 Democratic by 2008)

(below is due to the Trump factor)

Look at rural voters swinging mightily (that is, even more) toward Republicans in just the last 4 years.

At the same time, Democrats are winning suburban districts even more than before.

There is no "fine precision", because voters follow the respective political party's issue positions - WHICH CHANGE.


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LamarkNewAge
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Posts: 1458
Joined: 12-22-2015


Message 26 of 38 (856245)
06-28-2019 8:30 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Chiroptera
06-28-2019 12:14 PM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
quote:

That is true, especially since the Supreme Court decided that it isn't illegal.

I haven't read the decision (or news articles), but I am pretty sure the Supreme Court did not say that partisan districts are not illegal.

The issue has always been about finding a way to be able to tell which district is legal verses illegal.

Every "scientific" analytical theory gets shot down as flawed. Experts have attempted to find a "solution".

The big flips in voting patterns have really demonstrated the difficulty. Republicans might be able to claim that their (Trump era) voters are packed into rural areas, and should be spread out a manner similar to how Utah draws districts.

Edited by LamarkNewAge, : No reason given.


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LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 1458
Joined: 12-22-2015


Message 27 of 38 (856246)
06-28-2019 8:48 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by NosyNed
06-28-2019 2:01 PM


Re: What's Right...
quote:

Slowly we seem to be arriving at the important, fundamental point: Is the US not "of the people, by the people and for the people". Does anyone here want the system changed so each individual doesn't have a right to vote as they choose and have that vote be as effective as anyone else's.
If any of you Americans are truly patriotic and concerned about your country you'd be outraged by all this shit.

Then make it very easy for people to vote.

See what happens when 90% "turn out" to vote in every state and district.

I can't even begin to imagine the dramatic shift in the political landscape.

We also need to understand that voters do need representation, so politicians need to respond to the needs of their own constituents (and not simply follow the national party on every issue).

The United Kingdom has the center-left Liberal Democrats, which is a party able to win in marginal districts that Labor cannot.


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Sarah Bellum
Member
Posts: 224
Joined: 05-04-2019
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 28 of 38 (856272)
06-29-2019 8:59 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Theodoric
06-28-2019 8:00 PM


Re: The 2018 election showed how districts can change partisan orientation - dramatically
You're correct that Arrow's insight doesn't concern drawing district lines. But the idea is the same. If the district, for example, includes 25% of one minority, 10% of another, but 55% of voters from one party and 45% of voters from the other, how do you draw the district lines to result in similar proportions for the elected representatives? And do you even want to? What we've seen when representatives are selected that way is an abundance of "safe" seats, encouraging extremists for whom the primary election is the only consideration!
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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6692
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003
Member Rating: 5.8


Message 29 of 38 (856284)
06-29-2019 11:14 AM


Ruch v Common Cause: The decision
Having read the gerrymandering decision, I'll summarize it here and offer some "editorial comments."

The decision was written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.

This case combines two cases.

The first case, Rucho v Common Cause, is the North Carolina case where redistricting resulted in 10 Republican members of Congress and 3 Democrats even though, statewide,48% of the voters voted Democrat. I'll remind our readers that this was exactly as intended: the gerrymanders openly admitted that they were trying to achieve 10 Republicans as opposed to 3 Democrats.

The other case was Lamone v Benisek, the case from Maryland where district boundaries were deliberately redrawn to flip one district from Republican to Democrat. Again, the gerrymanders made no secret of their goals.

In both cases, lower courts ruled against the gerrymandering. The Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the question on partisan gerrymandering is a political question and therefore not a question that can be considered by the judicial branch. The decisions by the lower courts were overturned.

The Court did point out that some questions about redistricting could be decided by the courts. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that districts must be of equal size under "one man, one vote", and the Court has ruled racial bias in redistricting to be unconstitutional. But this causes some confusion, in my opinion.

The main argument seems to be that the Founders were well aware of the problem of gerrymandering but gave the task of creating districts to the political branches anyway. [Pointing out, as Taq has, that the Founders were unaware of modern computer technology and demographic data would be "second guessing" the Founders intent, which is bad until the conservatives want to claim to be "originalists" and... second-guess the Founders intent.]

[Also, the Founders were also aware of districts that violated "one person, one vote", yet the Court found this a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. What makes partisan gerrymanding different enough that it doesn't violate the Fourteenth Amendment? Roberts doesn't say.]

The second point that Roberts stresses is that it is difficult to determine what a standard of fairness would look like and so a question left to the political branches.

[ Yet the Court has been able to determine when districts violate "racial fairness"; what makes "partisan fairness" more difficult? Roberts doesn't say.]

Roberts also makes the point that the actual behavior of voters don't always follow predictions and can change overtime.

[Which is true, except in the two cases the Court was looking at, the results were exactly what was intended; furthermore, the intent of the North Carolina case is to lock in a long term partisan advantage.]

Finally, Roberts points out that many states have, through the political process, instituted nonpartisan means of drawing districts, and the Elections Clause gives Congress the authority to regulate the process.

[I've only glanced at Kagan 's dissent right now, but I did notice she pretty much questions Roberts' sincerity on this point.]

A few other points:

Roberts likewise dismisses the First Amendment objections to the gerrymandering. I'm not very familiar with this argument, so can't comment on it. Maybe Kagan's dissent will enlighten me.

Also Roberts dismisses the argument based on the "guarantee of a republican form of government clause". I do think this clause should be used more, but I agree there isn't a lot of precedence for its use. Anyway, I also think it's been largely subsumed into the Fourteenth Amendment.


It says something about the qualities of our current president that the best argument anyone has made in his defense is that he didn’t know what he was talking about. -- Paul Krugman

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LamarkNewAge
Member
Posts: 1458
Joined: 12-22-2015


Message 30 of 38 (856305)
06-29-2019 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by Chiroptera
06-29-2019 11:14 AM


Re: Ruch v Common Cause: The decision
quote:

The first case, Rucho v Common Cause, is the North Carolina case where redistricting resulted in 10 Republican members of Congress and 3 Democrats even though, statewide,48% of the voters voted Democrat. I'll remind our readers that this was exactly as intended: the gerrymanders openly admitted that they were trying to achieve 10 Republicans as opposed to 3 Democrats.

North Carolina has a typical performance of 52%-53% Republican.

Remember that Democrats are naturally packed into cities and the suburbs very close to cities.

So North Carolina will have about two-thirds of the districts leaning Republican anyway (admittedly the gerrymander did tilt things).

quote:

The other case was Lamone v Benisek, the case from Maryland where district boundaries were deliberately redrawn to flip one district from Republican to Democrat. Again, the gerrymanders made no secret of their goals.

Maryland is a state where Republicans would win 3 out of 8 districts if not for the gerrymander. Democrats are 7 to 1.

Ironically, Maryland will have (popular) Republican Governor to deal with during the redistricting process.

North Carolina just elected a Democratic Governor in 2016, so his 2020 re-election race will give voters a chance to give Democrats a voice.

quote:

The main argument seems to be that the Founders were well aware of the problem of gerrymandering but gave the task of creating districts to the political branches anyway. Pointing out, as Taq has, that the Founders were unaware of modern computer technology and demographic data would be "second guessing" the Founders intent, which is bad until the conservatives want to claim to be "originalists" and... second-guess the Founders intent.

Also, the Founders were also aware of districts that violated "one person, one vote", yet the Court found this a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. What makes partisan gerrymanding different enough that it doesn't violate the Fourteenth Amendment? Roberts doesn't say.


He must be thinking of the Governor's races, for one thing.

quote:

The second point that Roberts stresses is that it is difficult to determine what a standard of fairness would look like and so a question left to the political branches.

Yet the Court has been able to determine when districts violate "racial fairness"; what makes "partisan fairness" more difficult? Roberts doesn't say.


There are actual measurable formulas for racial districts.

It seems that the standard on Voting-Rights Act districts is that once a district becomes majority minority, you can't dismantle it. A state that has 10 districts and a 30% African-American population, must have 3 majority black districts (and the turnout models suggest that the districts should be 55% African-American for blacks to have a fair-fight district) A state that reaches 40% African American population, with 5 seats, must have 2 majority African-American districts. A state with 4 districts, and 40% African-American population only must have 1 majority African-American district.

Hispanic districts do have a formula as well. The Hispanic districts need to be 65% Hispanic for Hispanics to have a solid chance at representation. The Courts have demanded that standard in Texas.

quote:

Roberts also makes the point that the actual behavior of voters don't always follow predictions and can change overtime.

Which is true, except in the two cases the Court was looking at, the results were exactly what was intended; furthermore, the intent of the North Carolina case is to lock in a long term partisan advantage.


The Maryland example shows the changing voting patterns. The Maryland 6th district is made up of about a half dozen counties in western Maryland, plus part of the massive Montgomery County. Western Maryland is now solidly Republican while Montgomery County is massively Democratic (though not in all parts). But Montgomery County, which is now only about 5% (or more?) Jewish, used to be about 30% so. It was a liberal Republican stronghold, when the rest of the state (except for Prince Georges County) was Democratic. Western Maryland was a very conservative-Democratic area.

Republicans, in the 1970s, would only win Prince Georges County & Montgomery County. A decade before, Republicans did well in Baltimore (or a few decades), though they did not win.

By the time of the 1990s, Democrats would loose 44 out of 47 counties, but would win BIG in Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, and Baltimore City. (essentially the complete opposite of the way things were before, though Baltimore wasn't ever a Republican-leaning city, and it was closest before the mid 1960s)

Republicans last won Prince Georges in 1976 or 1980. But 1996, Clinton beat Dole about 80 to 20 there.

Republican Presidents last won Montgomery County in 1988. Clinton won the county in 1996 by about 30% (though a liberal Republican continued to win the congressional district for a while after, until Democrats gerrymandered the seat - in 2002 putting Prince Georges County voters into the Montgomery County seat).

6 years after the liberal Republican Montgomery County congressman was defeated, Obama won the district 76% to 22% against McCain. (Gore won 60% in 2000 and Bill Clinton won 56% in 1996)

The district changed.

Things change.

And Republican Governors win the 6th district (which now includes a large part of super-Democratic Montgomery County)

quote:

Finally, Roberts points out that many states have, through the political process, instituted nonpartisan means of drawing districts, and the Elections Clause gives Congress the authority to regulate the process.

I've only glanced at Kagan 's dissent right now, but I did notice she pretty much questions Roberts' sincerity on this point.


Democrats can actually use legislation in the United States Congress to require every state to follow the national law.

Not too difficult considering Democrats are the majority in the House until January 2021. The Senate only needs 4 Republicans to join all 47 Democrats.

quote:

A few other points:

Roberts likewise dismisses the First Amendment objections to the gerrymandering. I'm not very familiar with this argument, so can't comment on it. Maybe Kagan's dissent will enlighten me.

Also Roberts dismisses the argument based on the "guarantee of a republican form of government clause". I do think this clause should be used more, but I agree there isn't a lot of precedence for its use. Anyway, I also think it's been largely subsumed into the Fourteenth Amendment.


Now that there was a 5-4 "party-line" SCOTUS decision, I would say this is a politically charged issue. Why use the courts when a political solution is possible? Let us see our legislators in action!


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