The 2018 election results are a powerful demonstration of why American politicians want to keep control of redistricting to themselves, thus exposing one of the most blatently undemocratic aspects of elections.

Successful partisan gerrymandering of constituences rests on one major concept: distributing the votes for your political party more evenly among districts than your opponent. One way to measure how successfully a party is distributing its votes is through what political scientists call “wasted votes”. Most of the votes for Democrats would be considered “wasted” because they are packed into heavily Democratic urban and suburban districts rather than being distributed throughout the state. Republicans have been very successful in adjusting boundaries to have just enough Republican votes in rach district to carry most countrified districts.

GOP lawmakers around the country have ruthlessly used their control of the redistricting process to cement statehouse and congressional majorities in states such as Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. In addition to increasing the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, GOP control in those states has also led to policy shifts in favor of lower taxes, deregulation, weakened labor unions and making abortion more difficult.

Although Democrats have benefited from gerrymanders in states they control (most notably in Maryland), the party has generally begun to embrace nonpartisan redistricting proposals as good policy and good politics. Earlier this month, Democrats in New Jersey’s Legislature attempted to change the redistricting process in ways that would have cemented the party’s power, only to see grassroots Democratic activists scuttle the effort.

The Courts have been even-handed, rejecting multiple congressional maps around the country, declaring they were unfairly drawn to handicap political opponents. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court even redrew all 18 of the state’s congressional districts after finding the Republican Legislature had tilted the map too far in the GOP’s favor. (Adapted from an article on NPR)

My comment: being allowed as a politician to adjust your electoral districts to benefit your party should be (is?) unconstitutional. The right way of handling this is to get a non-party-political, independent body to spread the voters evenly and fairly. Their decisions have to be final. Take redistricting out of the hands of party politicians!

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