Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Contra Gerrymandering

My contention is that gerrymandering would be less of an issue—because it would be less possible—under the system (or something similar) I'm about to describe. To me, at least, it seems worth considering.

Apparently independent commissions don’t work all that well to prevent gerrymandering, largely because political parties (and incumbents) lobby the independent commissions against is [using, or course, arguments other than “protect my (party’s) advantage].  (  But what would work?

Indiana, for example, has a House or Representatives composed of 100 members, who run for election n single-member districts.  Drawing 100 coherent legislative districts is difficult under any circumstances, but especially in states with major population centers and several/many sparsely settled areas.  In Indiana, again, as an example, the 10 most populous counties have about 49% of the (2010) population, while the 10 smallest counties combine for about 1.6% of the population.  Or, the 10 largest counties “deserve” to elect nearly half the legislature, while the 10 smallest counties, between them, ”deserve” less than 2 members of the Indiana House (if we apportion representation strictly by population).  Creating 100 (roughly) equally populated legislative districts is both difficult and allows great scope for ingenuity.

What if we created multi-member districts, where all counties are comprised of whole counties?  What if we created 10 legislative districts composed of whole counties or contiguous groupings of counties, and, from each district, elected 10 members of the House?  (The one exception would have to be Marion County, which would get 14 Representatives; one implication of this approach is that we might have to increase modestly the size of the Indiana House of Representatives.)

For example, in Northwest Indiana, the legislative map could combine Lake and Porter Counties (both fairly strongly urban)—they, together, had 9.88% of the state’s population in 2010.  The north and east “collar counties” around Indianapolis had nearly 10% of the population as well.

Each “legislative district” would have as many representatives as it’s (approximate” share of the population, and each voter would have as many votes as there are representatives in their districts.  So (for example) voters in the Lake-Porter County district would have 10 votes.  They could, then, cast their 10 votes in any way they desire to divide them up (into whole votes)—1 vote for each of 10 candidate, 10 votes for 1 candidate.  And the 10 (or whatever number works) candidates with the most votes are elected.

It’s still essentially local representation.  But it also more clearly reflects the population distribution.  Many districts would be multi-county—but also with multiple representatives.  Having to apportion votes among those candidates is likely to lead to the election of at least a few minority party candidates in most districts, which would, in many ways, increase fairness of representation (e.g., a party whose adherents represent, say, 15% of a district’s population are likely, now, to have no representatives.  This would likely lead a minority party representative (probably only 1) from that district.

In Indiana, the State Senate has 50 members.  Using this system, it would be possible for the Senate and House districts to coincide (with 5 senators, for example, per district).  Or not.


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