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gerrymandering

2020 Census Means Congressional Shake-up

Texas, Florida and North Carolina are among the states that will gain congressional seats based on new population data from the U.S. census, a shift that could boost Republican chances of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. The overall U.S. population stood at 331,449,281, the Census Bureau said on Monday, a 7.4% increase over 2010 representing the second-slowest growth of any decade in history. The release of the data, delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, sets the stage for a battle over redistricting that could reshape political power in Washington during the next decade. States use the numbers and other census data to redraw electoral maps based on where people have moved.” SOURCE: Reuters

It is constitutionally mandated that the U.S. government conduct a census every ten years.  There are many benefits for all that data, but the original purpose was to allot congressional seats in the House of Representatives.  Today the number is locked in at 435, so as states’ populations grow or (relative to others) shrink, a given state many gain or lose seats in the House.  This ends up being very consequential, especially in a two-party country that is pretty evenly divided.  

New York and California (two of the largest states with the most seats) are the most upset since they are seeing their relative political power in the House of Representatives wane for the first time in decades while Texas is smiling big with 2 added seats.  Little Rhode Island is letting out a huge sigh of relief, since it was projected that Rhode Island would be losing 1 of their 2 congressional seats along with federal funding that is attached to that seat.  However, Rhode Island managed to retain their two seats. The census only says how many seats a given state will have, but it is up to the state government to reapportion the districts.  Redistricting can be very contentious and when it gets overtly and unfairly partisan, that’s when regular old redistricting can become gerrymandering.

Things to Consider: What demographic shifts have led to these new political patterns on the map?  Will these shifts lead to gerrymandering?  How will this impact the states gaining (or losing) seats? 

Tags: electoral, gerrymandering, USA, mapping.

Will the Supreme Court End Gerrymandering?

"Justices will be reviewing the case of North Carolina, where Republicans drew a map to maximize their power in the House. Plaintiffs challenging the map say it’s unconstitutional. A companion case centers on Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which Democrats admit they redrew in 2011 to make it harder for the Republican incumbent there to win re-election. The two cases hold the potential to set the course of American politics for generations."

Source: www.nytimes.com

Questions to Ponder: Do you trust the politicians that are in charge of your state to create better districts than a computer-generated set of districts that are optimized for compactness?  What are some of the potential limitations of compact districts?  Would an independent committee/bipartisan group do a better job?

GeoEd Tags: gerrymandering, political, mapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

Tags: gerrymandering, politicalmapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

This computer programmer solved gerrymandering in his spare time

We could take human error out of the redistricting process entirely. Why don’t we?

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

This computer programmer (code word in the newspapers for geographers using GIS) has created a way to take the human element out of the redistricting process.  Dividing places into separate, formal regions is an important task, one that often times requires an intimate knowledge of the place, it’s cultural, economic and physical characteristics.  That’s how I would want things to been done in a perfect world, but partisan chicanery has led to so many gerrymandered districts that the human touch is what many of us fear more than a cold, impersonal division that does not take place, history, and community into account.    

 

Questions to Ponder: Do you trust the politicians that are in charge of your state to create better districts than computer-generated districts that are optimized for compactness?  What are some of the potential limitations of compact districts?  Would an independent committee/bipartisan group do a better job? How does the Voting Rights Act complicate the redistricting process?    

 

Tags: gerrymandering, politicalmapping, cartography, GIS, unit 4 political.

Bill aims to ‘take politics’ out of drawing district lines

A Democratic state senator in South Carolina wants to end the practice of lawmakers choosing who votes for them. The senator introduced a bill Wednesday that would create an independent commission to draw the state’s political districts. Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature now control that process. South Carolina voters would approve or reject the boundaries of new political districts in a statewide referendum if the bill becomes law. The state redraws its political boundaries for South Carolina House, state Senate and U.S. House seats after each 10-year U.S. Census [the next Census is in 2020].”

Source: www.thestate.com

While it may be laudable to try eliminate partisan gerrymandering, this bill is going nowhere.  Still, it is an important issue to discuss. 

 

Questions to Ponder: What is the difference between the terms redistricting and gerrymandering?  Why won’t this bill pass? 

What is the fairest way to divide districts?

 

Tags: gerrymandering, political, census, unit 4 political.

Judges Find Wisconsin Redistricting Unfairly Favored Republicans

A federal panel called the 2011 redrawing of Wisconsin Assembly districts an unconstitutional gerrymander, ruling in a case that could go to the Supreme Court.

Source: www.nytimes.com

The redistricting process is far from neutral; to be fair we should remember that gerrymandering has happened on all ends of the political spectrum, depending on who is charge during the redistricting process (after the decennial census).  Which map to you think is the best way to divide these districts?  What is the fairest way to divide them?

Tags: gerrymandering, political, mapping, census, unit 4 political.

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