NC Federal House Districts unconstitutionally gerrymandered

What’s your position?

How California’s independent redistricting works:

I mean, I see where you’re going with part of this, and I think I see where you’re going with part of this. A geographical algorithm might privilege white voters by virtue of demographic trends, and you’re Just Asking Questions about whether that meets everyone’s approval. Where I think you’re going is perhaps better suited for a Pit thread.

In any case, no. Voting districts in a republic should serve voters, not geography. Geography is a shorthand to getting to fairness, but it isn’t fairness itself. An ideal system of choosing representatives in a republic will allow the electorate to elect representatives in close proportion to the votes cast. That is, if one party earns 45% of the vote, they should have close to 45% of the representatives (barring some bizarre circumstances, e.g., 90% of those votes were cast for one representative, as the others were plagued with scandal).

We should work toward fairness and equity, such that the fewest votes are wasted.

Now, it just so happens that the overwhelming bias of our current voting system skews against African Americans, in various well-documented ways. So a lot of the work in the direction of fairness will mean moving toward more voting power for African Americans. But that doesn’t specifically mean we should engage in the sort of finger-on-the-scale you’re suggesting; rather, we should make sure that our systems are both accurate and precise enough that they stop wasting the votes of anyone.

I favor the status quo as the best of a series of flawed possibilities.

That might increase Democratic wins.

Lucky break, eh?

That helps the Republicans.

Lucky break, huh?

Uh, no. The lucky break is that the US people support Democratic positions. The basic principle–that in a republic the government ought to represent its citizens accurately–is a basic principle, and it’s insane to smarmily imply that it’s partisanship.

How utterly convenient.

This part of your assertion assumes that to “represent its citizens accurately” requires that we simply look at numbers, and pay no attention to distribution. So, if large numbers of people living in concentrated areas want something, that something should be applied to an entire geographical area, regardless of what the people covering that area are interested in having.

That particular concept was so unappealing to those who founded the country that they specifically created methods of representation that avoided it. If it was implemented in this country today, I can state with some certainty that the “united” in our name would quickly stop being true. We can quibble about exactly how much value people outside of a compact geographical area should have in determining democratic results, but if you essentially disenfranchise them, all they will do is quit the agreement that ties them to the compact area with the power.

The determination of whether or not the wishes of the majority should be carried out by the government rests entirely on whether or not a particular action violates the rights – I repeat, the rights, not the wishes or the preferences or the interests or the sensibilities – of the minority. Whether the people making up the minority live a few meters further from one another on average or have red hair or have one or two stars on their bellies or whatnot doesn’t factor into it.

One vote.
I don’t like proportional schemes because I want to vote for a person not a party.

Do you feel like the lawmakers in NC acted ethically?

So you’d rather retain overwhelming bias and disenfranchisement of African Americans because they are more likely to vote Republican?

And if you essentially disenfranchise the people who do live in compact geographical areas, are they just to smile and accept it?

“[T]he voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”

  • Notorious RBG,
    Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC)

Due respect, our founding fathers were slavers who thought landowners should make all the decisions. The weight they gave to geography over humanity is both unsurprising and unpersuasive.

The current situation disenfranchises far more people, by virtue of ignoring the dangers of disenfranchising people. Acres don’t vote, people do; and if 500 people live in a high-rise, there’s absolutely no reason their opinions should be weighted less than 500 people that live on ranches that cover half a state.

How about if they count 3/5 as much?

Now this is the kind of compromise that made America great!

In Washington, there’s a minor kerfuffle brewing around a recent State Supreme Court decision that protects water at the expense of rural development rights. Rural legislators are effectively filibustering a large capital spending bill until the legislature fixes that problem. That’s pretty much all I know about it, but that’s kind of my point. I live in an urban area, and barely care about this at all. A minority of Washingtonians live in rural areas, and care about this a whole lot.

Washington has these things:

  • A large urban center with well over half the state’s population
  • A large amount of land with low population density
  • Rules that require super-majorities for some bills to pass
  • A bipartisan commission that draws district boundaries

And as a result, I think we’re getting a pretty good (though certainly imperfect) result. The urban center means that Democrats consistently win state-wide races, our legislature is fairly close, but still Democratically controlled, and rural areas have a mechanism by which they can call attention to issues that are of extreme importance to them, but which barely register on urbanites’ radars. I’m fine with the balance we have here, even given that some issues turn our slightly differently than they would if everyone voted their interest in a statewide referendum and the majority prevailed.

How are they “disenfranchised”? Do they not get to vote?

In ANY system of representative democracy, someone gets less power for their votes than someone else. You propose that this should be entirely based upon numbers. So, if n/2 + 1 people have a particular viewpoint, that viewpoint should be the viewpoint that is carried out. But this allows for the people of a very compact geographical area to control what happens to the entire rest of the greater geographic area which has entered into the political compact with them. In essence, then, the people of the rural areas are now “disenfranchised”, in exactly the same way that you complain that the people of the urban areas are being “disenfranchised”.

Neither of you addressed my warning about what happens if you do this. This country already underwent one Civil War over the “disenfranchisement” of a geographical area, so it’s not like attempts to revise the civil political compact cannot happen here. The people of West Virginia have their own state for essentially the same reason. Like it or not, political power in a representative democracy needs to be shared on both a geographical and numerical basis. This reality, of course, has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court of the United States, which has shied away from mandating that every person’s vote be completely “equal” in value.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, no, I do NOT agree that the current attempt by the North Carolina Legislature is constitutional. As others have noted, the issue is how to establish that it is not constitutional in some way that is easily able to be replicated in the future.