Monday, July 31, 2017

Vox explains the gerrymandering cases before the Supreme Court

While I last mentioned gerrymandering and redistricting in John Oliver and Vox examine gerrymandering, the issue has continued to make news.  The top story on the issue is that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on two lawsuits contesting the gerrymandered districts in North Carolina and Wisconsin.  These cases have different bases, as Vox explains in The difference between racial and partisan gerrymandering.

The Court won't use the same criteria for either case. Here's why.
In America, voting districts are redrawn every ten years to account for shifts in demographics. Someone has to be in charge of drawing the new lines. And because voting is left to the states, in many jurisidictions this responsibility is left to partisan politicians. This creates an opening for politicians who might want to alter the outcome of an election through a process called gerrymandering.

But not all gerrymandering is the same. There are, in fact, two types: racial, and partisan. It is much more difficult to prove harm as a plaintiff in a partisan gerrymandering case than a racial one. And that distinction has to do with provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The North Carolina example was egregious enough that Vox used it as an example in one of its earlier videos on the subject, Gerrymandering: How politicians rig elections.

Most Americans think elections are rigged, and they're right. Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein explains how gerrymandering works, and how to fix it.
As I've written before, I support the idea of nonpartisan, independent redistricting commissions to reduce gerrymandering.  As for the Supreme Court cases, I'm much more optimistic about North Carolina's districts being remedied than Wisconsin's, although I'm hoping that the Supreme Court does find that partisan gerrymandering has gone too far.

That's it for this month.  Stay tuned for more about the Emmy nominees. I'm planning several posts on nominated political shows next month, which begins in a few hours.


  1. thumbs up! this is a serious matter, and both parties need to get rid of gerrymandering as a cheat.

    1. Hey, Paul! Good to see you! I was expecting you on one of my booze entries, but this one is even better. Yes, both parties need to get rid of gerrymandering. I'm sure the Republicans would like it fixed in Illinois and Maryland.