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Subject: The beauty of Gerrymandering rss

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Jorge Montero
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Blah blah bipartisan blah blah.

Here are some very nice Gerrymandering examples, where the state's popular vote and seat distribution have very little to do with each other:

http://www.vox.com/cards/gerrymandering-explained/what-are-t...

My favorites are districts 4 and 12 in North Carolina:


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William Boykin
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Ahh, District 2 looks like a nice and solid Rural district, pleasantly clean of ANY urban areas.

And District 12 is a marvel of the Gerrymandering art.

I give this map 9.4/10. It needs more snaky bits.

Darilian
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The thing about Gerrymandering is, as bad as it can be, I've yet to see a proposed solution that's not worse.
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Jorge Montero
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In case you were wondering, yes, 12 and 4 have huge margins of victory, making sure there's a whole 3 districts, total, that one would consider remotely competitive.

 
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Strictly squares or some similar geometric shape doesn't do a good job of capturing communities of interest imo, but there are lots of algorithmic options that could be much better than what we have now. It's not a silver bullet though...a skewed weighting of variables can result in similarly poor maps.
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utoption2 wrote:
twomillionbucks wrote:
The thing about Gerrymandering is, as bad as it can be, I've yet to see a proposed solution that's not worse.


How about something geometric and mathematical, just divide the country in squares or polygons or whatever shape? 1 for every 1,000,000 people? Too Simple.

Or

Divide by established parish, county, or district?



That'd be horrible. Dar's complaint on district 2 is actually a good thing. The district should have similar interests, primarily farming-related (water rights, state highways for transportation of goods, land usage, etc). Mixing in a couple of larger cities and you suddenly have one person representing lots of different interests. IMO, #2 is supposed to be how it works.

Now #12... no excuse I can possibly see for that. That's districting at its worst.
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utoption2 wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
Strictly squares or some similar geometric shape doesn't do a good job of capturing communities of interest imo, but there are lots of algorithmic options that could be much better than what we have now. It's not a silver bullet though...a skewed weighting of variables can result in similarly poor maps.


Why is capture of communities important in a constitutional republic? Just a question, not a claim, to continue the conversation.


I think it provides for better representation of viewpoints. For example, if a population is 30% rural and 70% urban, I think it's better to have 7 urban districts and 3 rural districts rather than 10 that are 70% urban and 30% rural. In the latter case, it's likely that some interests get ignored entirely. No, not all interest groups cleanly break down geographically, but I think you might be surprised at which geography correlates to interests across a wide range of issues.
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utoption2 wrote:
fizzmore wrote:
Strictly squares or some similar geometric shape doesn't do a good job of capturing communities of interest imo, but there are lots of algorithmic options that could be much better than what we have now. It's not a silver bullet though...a skewed weighting of variables can result in similarly poor maps.


Why is capture of communities important in a constitutional republic? Just a question, not a claim, to continue the conversation.


Because one of the the advantages of a constitutional republic over a pure democracy is the giving a voice the minority. By drawing district lines where people share interests, we give a voice to their concerns- if their district suddenly had a giant city with a lot more people in it, their voices could be effectively silenced.
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Jorge Montero
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The problem of 2 is not that 2 exists, but that it creates 4, which is almost as terrible as 12. But put fayetteville in 2, and then 4 is still strongly democrat, and 2 is not a safe republican district anymore.
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hibikir wrote:
The problem of 2 is not that 2 exists, but that it creates 4, which is almost as terrible as 12. But put fayetteville in 2, and then 4 is still strongly democrat, and 2 is not a safe republican district anymore.


Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Raleigh and Fayetteville should all be somewhat similar in demographics, asking for representation in fairly similar things. Now, if the population of those is disproportionate, then it's a problem. But if that district has roughly the same population as others, then it's a good split.
 
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Jorge Montero
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twomillionbucks wrote:

Because one of the the advantages of a constitutional republic over a pure democracy is the giving a voice the minority. By drawing district lines where people share interests, we give a voice to their concerns- if their district suddenly had a giant city with a lot more people in it, their voices could be effectively silenced.


If it's really about giving minorities a voice, then the percentages on each district should be about the same, in one direction or the other. Make them extreme, make them 50/50... it doesn't matter, be consistent.

But as you can see in my second post here, every blue district is won by a total landslide, while the red districts are won by comfortable, yet far smaller margins.

I could make another map where it's the other way around, like you can see in Maryland. There, the Republicans win one district by a landslide, and are pretty sure to lose every other one, but not by that much.

If what we wanted was just to get voices heard, we could also just ignore geography and winner takes all, and instead go with a list-based system. Then if 60% of the vote is republican and 40% is democrat, then the representation would actually resemble that 60/40 split, instead of, an 80/20 split, which is what you get with gerrymandering.
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Jorge Montero
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GameCrossing wrote:

Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Raleigh and Fayetteville should all be somewhat similar in demographics, asking for representation in fairly similar things. Now, if the population of those is disproportionate, then it's a problem. But if that district has roughly the same population as others, then it's a good split.


So let me get this straight: If cities are won by a party 90/10, while the countryside is won by the other party by 60/40, then giving each party one representative is a good split, populations being equal?

I see how one can defend a system where the least people are unhappy with their representative, or a system where the number of representatives by each party resembles the popular vote: So either maximizing the number of contested districts, or minimizing it. What we see here is a system where a party makes darned sure that they will have a majority regardless of what the population as a whole wants.

Really, look at that second chart of margins of victory. Is it all a huge coincidence?
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hibikir wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:

Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Raleigh and Fayetteville should all be somewhat similar in demographics, asking for representation in fairly similar things. Now, if the population of those is disproportionate, then it's a problem. But if that district has roughly the same population as others, then it's a good split.


So let me get this straight: If cities are won by a party 90/10, while the countryside is won by the other party by 60/40, then giving each party one representative is a good split, populations being equal?

I see how one can defend a system where the least people are unhappy with their representative, or a system where the number of representatives by each party resembles the popular vote: So either maximizing the number of contested districts, or minimizing it. What we see here is a system where a party makes darned sure that they will have a majority regardless of what the population as a whole wants.

Really, look at that second chart of margins of victory. Is it all a huge coincidence?


Again, I point to my comment about population. If there's more population in that district than in others, then split it in half and make it two districts. Otherwise, I'm fine with it. My question to you would be if we are selecting one person to represent their constituents, then what purpose does it serve to saddle them with constituents who often have conflicting goals and interests? If districts are split in an effort to get state legislatures to equally divide according to registration as reflected in statewide numbers, you are going to get a lot of districts who are poorly represented. Myself, I am much more concerned with whether urban interests v rural interests are more accurately represented. In too many states, rural interests get bullied out of the way.
 
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twomillionbucks wrote:
The thing about Gerrymandering is, as bad as it can be, I've yet to see a proposed solution that's not worse.

Not having electoral districts

Off course, I do not understand much of the whole US political system, just that everything seems to completely wrong about it to me. however what are the main objections to a system whereby you count the population of a state, determine how many congresmen this state may provide and then have statewide elections for congress?

Have every party make a list of candidates and let the number of votes they get determine the number of representatives they get.

No more gerymandering and other parties then the two main parties get a better chance of getting a representative in congress, win-win
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bjlillo wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
I think we should just divide the states up into squares. Whatever the land area is determines your representative. None of this BS proportional representation crap where we divide up the representation by population.


Squares? Never mind, that's stupid. What kind of a gamer would I be if I used squares? Hexagons. We should divide the states up into evenly sized hexagons and the residents inside those hexagons get to elect their representatives.


I always thought it should be divide the state up by counties so they total population represented by each Congressman is roughly equivalent.

In my home state. Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) and Franklin County (Columbus) would each have 1 representative, while Hamilton County (Cincinatti) would have 1 additional county with it. The other 11 Reps would be appropriately divided among the remaining counties.
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GameCrossing wrote:
Now #12... no excuse I can possibly see for that. That's districting at its worst.


Looks like it runs along I-85 between Greensboro and Charlotte, to me - two of the three largest cities in the state, and the entirety of the connections between them.

IE., looks silly on the map, but that's the district most of the voters of those two cities are in, including those who regularly commute into them for work.

Even district 4 looks a lot less silly when you overlay the interstate roads on it.

And the 'why' is exactly the reason you cite - a goal of drawing district lines to represent 'common interests' is what are working from. Not saying that always WORKS, but just looking at a map that snakes all over the place doesn't always tell the whole story.
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Quote:



Quote:
And District 12 is a marvel of the Gerrymandering art.






That's nothing. This was the original shape years ago.

"One candidate who joined Watt in the race for the seat complained, according to the New York Times, that he could 'drive down I-85 with both car doors open and his every person in the district.'"

"The Wall Street Journal called the district 'political pornography.'"

Of course, congressional districts are not even mentioned in the Constitution. Occasionally, even more populous states would have a few at-large districts sometimes such New York did 1873–1875, 1883–1885, 1933-1945...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_congressional_del...

(45 of the 50 states have had at-large districts, 39 formerly and 6 currently)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-large#United_States

...

My favorite is the Illinois 4th, the earmuffs district, an attempt to bring two separate Hispanic neighborhoods together by a thin almost imaginary line, or perhaps the Z-shaped Louisiana district



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twomillionbucks wrote:
The thing about Gerrymandering is, as bad as it can be, I've yet to see a proposed solution that's not worse.
How about state wide popular vote with the seats split proportionally.

The mere concept of "Let's give whoever is in power the means to legally rig the next elections in their favor" boggles the mind...
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I still place a high value on voting for individual candidates. Blanket proportional voting just gives more power to political parties.
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fizzmore wrote:
I still place a high value on voting for individual candidates. Blanket proportional voting just gives more power to political parties.
Why can't you vote for an individual candidate in a proportional seat distribution? If the Federal House of Representatives gives you 12 seats that just means each party can float 12 candidates (or more if they wish). You can vote for as many or few as you want, but you must rank order them. They can all be from the same district or different ones.
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fizzmore wrote:
I still place a high value on voting for individual candidates. Blanket proportional voting just gives more power to political parties.

Arguably, political parties have less power in a proportional voting scheme, because they face competition from more than one party, have to compromise with coalition partners to form the government, and become easier to replace (particularly the smaller parties).

I guess since the two parties in the USA always pretend to oppose each other so vehemently, it kind of overshadows the fact how much mutual control over the electorate they actually share.

Sure, individual candidates without party affiliation would probably be ideal, but it's also unrealistic, since it's the parties' infrastructures (and funds) which decide the elections. I am aware that socially/culturally Americans tend to value individual leaders, but behind the veil of Obama VS. Romney, or whomever, parties already rule supreme in the USA.

That's also why you will never have proportional voting and why you are, for example, stuck with gerrymandering. Power is corruption, and guaranteed power is corruption guaranteed.
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(Proportional voting is an insane idea and would never happen anyway due to the way the power of the two political parties and the exacting way that the Constitution's electoral college generally discourages more than three political parties. And no one is changing the Constitution. Amendments never happen, and small states and many special interests want things kept close to the way they are. Senators generally have to be at least slightly moderate, representing an entire state; proportional voting would just make representatives even more fringe and allow more unknown crazies to sneak in. For example, the nut who shot up the Jewish community center ran for office as a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent. How would you like to find out that you accidentally "sort of" voted for that guy as you didn't cast the correct detailed ranking vote spreadsheet to banish him?)

Similar people will always cluster together. "Perfect gerrymandering" isn't going to change that.

One problem is that the House of Representatives became fixed at 435 members over 100 years ago. Now the average U.S. Representative "represents" about 7 times as people as a member of the House of Commons from the United Kingdom or Canada...
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sikeospi wrote:
For example, the nut who shot up the Jewish community center ran for office as a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent. How would you like to find out that you accidentally "sort of" voted for that guy as you didn't cast the correct detailed ranking vote spreadsheet to banish him?)
Wow, what a colossal misunderstanding of how it works in other countries. In a statewide proportional system he would be listed among the 11 other Republicans. If he is actually crazy he could possibly get 0 votes even among people who might vote for his party. Under the current system if he was the Democrat candidate and you don't vote for him you are defacto voting for the Republican in most cases.

And if you aren't willing to put in the effort to learn about the candidates perhaps you shouldn't be voting in the first place.
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twomillionbucks wrote:
The thing about Gerrymandering is, as bad as it can be, I've yet to see a proposed solution that's not worse.


California made drawing districts the business of a commission rather than the legislature. The maps that the proposed were dramatically better than the ones that had existed previously and didn't have any of this "we'll make a safe district for us here, here, and here and one for them there..." I wish more states would adopt a similar approach. It's easy to find "before" and "after" to see the differences and some are quite dramatic.
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