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HR 278 -- The End of Gerrymandering?

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posted on Jan, 16 2013 @ 10:50 PM
Something interesting appeared to me in a dream...Woah meow, wrong thread. Something interesting came to me via email this afternoon and it got me thinking.

Under the bill, H.R. 278, states would have to hand over the task of redistricting to an independent commission that emphasizes geographical contiguity and compactness of districts. Current districts are often contorted to collect certain voters into a single district.

We've heard a lot of things regarding the recent 2012 election surrounding Gerrymandering and underhanded tactics used by both political parties to sway the vote. From voter ID law to falseinformation flyers to the whole Ron Paul delegate fiasco; rumors of corruption are certainly alive and well during election season.

Or out of it.

Gerrymandering however, is the only real kind of corruption that politicians sort of admit to. This bill would change all that. Unless ofcourse, you believe that an independant board of anything is impossible, let alone in the politics of voting.

A solution to an actual political problem which effects all voters, is actually on the table. Personally I think it's great. However I suspect the story to quietly slide under the radar and that even if the bill does pass, we most likely won't see any real coverage.

I also expect that if any coverage does surface, it will be superficial and filled with talking heads down playing the importance of it.

It's things like this that make the political process real and shows that even a simple change can have long term, positive impact a whole group of people. In this case an entire electorate.

So what you say you ATS?

Great idea?

Pipe dream?


posted on Jan, 16 2013 @ 11:13 PM
Horrible idea. Districting is a state right and responsibility. This commission would give districting to the Feds. You thought you saw corruption before? Just wait until you ask the fox to DESIGN the henhouse"

posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 12:22 AM
I say it's about damn time. However, how exactly would this be implemented? That's the real question.

After this most recent Census numerous Republican controlled states went through drastic gerrymandering (and they still managed to lose House and Senate seats). Had they not, they would have lost even more. And I'm not saying Democrats don't do this as well. I will however say that quite often the Democratic tactic is essentially forcing Republican held districts into each other while Republican tactics are to marginalize minority votes. This has played out just a couple of years ago. Gerrymandering

Here in Illinois some of the redistricting was really peculiar. Some would have made no difference at all, while others actually went the opposite way and, frankly, I can't figure why they did what they did. For instance, the 10th and 11th districts were won by Democrats and they had been gerrymandered to include larger portions of strongly blue Cook County. In the 10th district, which is largely Lake County, (D) Schneider won by 1%. But he likely would have won either way. In the 11th, which is largely Will County, (D) Foster won by nearly 19% which made the redistricting pointless anyway. However, the 12th, 13th and 15th districts split up the very blue East St. Louis region. The 12th went to (D) Enyart by nearly 9% which had the sliver right on the Missouri border including East St. Louis. The 13th and 15th went red, but the problem with the redistricting lies in the fact that some of the Democratic votes that could have been in the 13th ended up in the 15th. The 15th is very rural and heavily Republican (my fathers family is from there in Hardin County) and was won by (R) Shimkus by about 37%. The 13th was won by (R) Davis by a miniscule 0.4% (around 1,100 votes). Had they not gerrymandered for gerrymandering's sake they may have managed to keep 1,100+ of the 92,000 votes in the 13th.

Did I just write all that? Anyway, I just want to know what guidelines, rules, what-have-you, would these councils work with? What sort of legislation could impartially and fairly distribute votes over districts? How would it not end up business as usual, just working in a new way? There desperately needs to be reform but this has to take the long view. It can't just be some sort of short term political tactic that eventually blows up in everyone's faces.

...that's my sleep-deprived opinion anyway.

posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 12:53 AM
A couple of quick problems which may not be significant. The resolution's constitutional authority is given as:

(1) the authority granted to Congress under article I, section 4 of the Constitution of the United States gives Congress the power to enact laws governing the time, place, and manner of elections for Members of the House of Representatives; and (2) the authority granted to Congress under section 5 of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution gives Congress the power to enact laws to enforce section 2 of such amendment, which requires Representatives to be apportioned among the several States according to their number.
Number (2) appears to be faulty. It only claims that the Feds can tell the States how many representatives they get. That's never been a problem.

As far as (1) goes, certainly time and place don't apply. Does "manner of elections" cover the situation? I wouldn't think so, it sounds more like the technicalities of voting and vote counting, such as paper or electronic, and ID required. It seems, at first glance, they might not have authority for this.

My second problem is compensation.

a State apportionment notice, the Election Assistance Commission shall make a payment to the State in an amount equal to the product of—
(1) the number of Representatives to which the State is entitled, as provided under the notice; and
(2) $150,000.

Considering that this will probably be all computerized, or at least heavily assited by computer, is it reasonable to give Idaho $300,000 and California $8 million?

I'm also a little concerned about the mechanics. First, picking an equal number of Republicans and Democrats will make deadlock likely. So, most of the redistricting decisions will be made by courts? Ehh, not too happy about that.

Just a couple of quick, disjointed thoughts.


posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 01:06 AM
reply to post by charles1952

Two things:

Could "manner of election" mean something along the lines of special elections? Such as what may occur when/if John Kerry leaves the Senate.

Could you expand on your last paragraph? I'm not following on the equal D/R part and thus, onto the courts part.

posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 01:27 AM
reply to post by LuckyLucian

Dear LuckyLucian,

I'm sorry, you're right. My post was really sloppy but I was just too tired to give it my best.

The bill calls for choosing an equal number of people from the top two vote getting parties to make up the redistricting committee. I assume that will be Republican and Democrat. These guys will try to come up with a plan which meets the requirements of the bill. I suspect there will be a lot of fighting over it, and in some, or many cases, they won't reach agreement.

If the committee doesn't find an agreed upon plan, or if the one they find is rejected by the Governor or the Legislature (the Legislature can still override the Governor's veto, if that's what he does) then everything gets bundled up and shipped to the State Supreme Court. If there's no luck agreeing on a plan there, it goes to the Federal District Court responsible for that state. I was suggesting that there may well be more than a couple of courts working out redistricting plans.

Special elections? Maybe. My guess is that it's broader than just special elections, but those are probably included. If I was really serious about this I'd go to a US Supreme Court data base and find out what they think "manner of elections" means. But I'm generally lazy, and currently a little fuzzy.

Thanks for asking, and keeping me on the straight and narrow.

With respect,

posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 01:39 AM
reply to post by charles1952

That was a very polite and formal response and I thank you, good sir.

I see what you 're getting at now, and you're quite right. There would likely be quite a few instances where there would be no consensus. There would need to be some better structure in that instance rather than throwing it to the courts to decide.

I suppose I could read the bill since I downloaded the PDF but I'm a bit lazy at the moment as well.

posted on Jan, 17 2013 @ 03:05 PM
reply to post by charles1952

It seems like a scenario that would be beneficial to both parties while maintaining honesty within the system. Mind you they could just get together and rig the whole thing anyway I suppose.



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