Tar­get par­ti­san ger­ry­man­der­ing

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

Re­gard­ing the May 25 ed­i­to­rial “A wel­come rul­ing on dis­trict lines”:

In the case of the ger­ry­man­dered dis­tricts in North Carolina, the Supreme Court and lower court sup­ported the fool­ish con­tention that par­ti­san politi­cians care about race when draw­ing lines for vot­ing dis­tricts. That is not true. Par­ti­san politi­cians care about one thing: win­ning. It is easy to il­lus­trate that race is no longer a fac­tor in draw­ing dis­trict bound­aries. Con­sider a con­sul­tant with no knowledge of the racial makeup of North Carolina view­ing a map of its vot­ing his­tory over the past few elec­tion cy­cles. For bet­ter or worse, the African Amer­i­can ar­eas will show a his­tory of sup­port­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates over­whelm­ingly. Just as the Re­pub­li­cans did in the case at hand, the col­or­blind con­sul­tant would look to ei­ther di­lute or mag­nify that vot­ing bloc de­pend­ing on which party em­ployed him. Race would sim­ply not be a fac­tor, and it was not in this case. Such ger­ry­man­der­ing may not be fair, but the Supreme Court has pre­vi­ously ruled that it is le­gal.

Un­til we get past this ob­ses­sion with race, we can­not move on to re­form­ing the re­dis­trict­ing process to lessen ger­ry­man­der­ing by par­ti­san politi­cians. Such re­form should in­clude re­quir­ing the most com­pact dis­tricts pos­si­ble, us­ing bound­aries fol­low­ing city, county or Zip code lines; in­ter­state high­ways; or nat­u­ral fea­tures such as rivers, streams and moun­tains. Will some­one please in­tro­duce such leg­is­la­tion?

David Palmer, Rockville

Ap­prox­i­mately 53 per­cent of

North Carolini­ans vot­ing for a U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives can­di­date in 2016 chose Re­pub­li­cans, and about 47 per­cent chose Democrats. Ten Re­pub­li­cans and three Democrats were sent to Wash­ing­ton, giv­ing the GOP about 77 per­cent and Democrats ap­prox­i­mately 23 per­cent of the rep­re­sen­ta­tion. What a joy it was to read in the May 25 ed­i­to­rial “A wel­come rul­ing on dis­trict lines” that the Supreme Court had over­whelm­ingly ruled against a por­tion of this ger­ry­man­der­ing that has so skewed the po­lit­i­cal de­sires of the Tar Heel elec­torate.

Fred P. Crouch, Wash­ing­ton

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