Push against par­ti­san ger­ry­man­der­ing gain­ing mo­men­tum

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Insight - BY DAVID A. LIEB As­so­ci­ated Press

Frus­trated by par­ti­san ger­ry­man­der­ing, vot­ers in a grow­ing num­ber of states have taken the pen and com­puter away from law­mak­ers who have tra­di­tion­ally drawn U.S. House and state leg­isla­tive districts and in­stead en­trusted that re­spon­si­bil­ity to others.

In the past decade, eight states have over­hauled their re­dis­trict­ing pro­ce­dures to lessen the po­ten­tial of par­ti­san ma­nip­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing four that adopted bal­lot mea­sures last fall. More could con­sider re­dis­trict­ing changes dur­ing the 2020 elec­tions – the last be­fore the U.S. Cen­sus ini­ti­ates another round of map­mak­ing for over 400 U.S. House seats and nearly 7,400 state leg­isla­tive seats.

The cur­rent move­ment be­gan in Cal­i­for­nia for the 2010 Cen­sus, when vot­ers ap­proved bal­lot ini­tia­tives cre­at­ing an in­de­pen­dent ci­ti­zens’ com­mis­sion to han­dle re­dis­trict­ing. Mea­sures touted as re­dis­trict­ing re­forms also have passed in Florida, New York, Ohio and – most re­cently – in Colorado, Michi­gan, Mis­souri and Utah.

In Ohio, the ef­fort was bi­par­ti­san. Repub­li­cans joined with Democrats to back a pair of suc­cess­ful bal­lot mea­sures that will re­quire mi­nor­ity-party sup­port to en­act new con­gres­sional and state leg­isla­tive districts for the next decade.

Ohio’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion has re­mained at 12 Repub­li­cans and four Democrats ever since GOP of­fi­cials re­drew the maps af­ter the 2010 Cen­sus, a 75-25 per­cent tilt that is out of line with the statewide vote for the two ma­jor par­ties. In Novem­ber, Repub­li­can con­gres­sional can­di­dates in Ohio won 52 per­cent of that vote while Democrats won 48 per­cent.

The As­so­ci­ated Press used a so-called “ef­fi­ciency gap” test to an­a­lyze the 2018 elec­tions. It’s one of the same an­a­lyt­i­cal tools cited in a North Carolina ger­ry­man­der­ing case for which the U.S. Supreme Court is hear­ing ar­gu­ments on Tues­day. The test showed Ohio’s pro-Repub­li­can lean­ing ranked just be­hind North Carolina’s in the 2018 con­gres­sional elec­tions, and its state House districts also showed a GOP ad­van­tage.

“We’ve been liv­ing un­der that rigged sys­tem for the en­tire decade,” said Ohio Demo­cratic Party Chair­man David Pep­per.

Yet one of the sup­port­ers of Ohio’s new re­dis­trict­ing pro­ce­dures is Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Frank LaRose, who worked as a state se­na­tor to re­fer the mea­sures to the bal­lot. LaRose said he hopes the new process leads to more com­pet­i­tive elec­tions – even if that puts Repub­li­cans at risk of los­ing seats.

“I also see this in some ways as tough love for my party,” LaRose said. “I be­lieve that Repub­li­can can­di­dates are likely to win based on their ideas and based on the qual­ity of their so­lu­tions for gov­ern­ing. But I think that when we rely on some­thing other than that to win an elec­tion, it weak­ens us.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.