31

The purpose of political districting is to ensure local representation - something that is valued as itself in the US. This decision to have districts immediately leads to a debate on what is the right way to divide an area into smaller bits, as you stated. There is no objective guide or rule to do this fairly or in a right way. Representative democracy ...


23

Single member districts are pretty unrepresentative You are right to question the value of holding several single-member, First-past-the-post elections. FPTP essentially throws away all votes that are not for the winner. Additionally, it throws away excess votes received by the winner. Throwing away all these votes can result in a set of representatives, ...


18

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is responsible for redrawing the districts for representatives to Congress. Following the 2010 passage of California Proposition 20, the Voters First Act for Congress, the Commission was also assigned the responsibility of redrawing the state's U.S. congressional district boundaries following the ...


16

One alternative is to let a totally impartial computer decide, based purely on census data and geography, with no details about the political (or other) makeup of the population. Brian Olsen's open source census-based B-districting algorithm aims for: Across all districts and all people, The best district map is the one where people have the lowest ...


16

Let's look at the last post-redistricting election (2012). There were ten states that lost House seats from the previous election. New York (-2 seats) took advantage of the fact that multiple incumbents were retiring to eliminate two districts, one from each party. Ohio (-2 seats) put two incumbent Democrats against each other in one district, and two ...


14

Generally, yes. Even when a state keeps the same number of congressional districts, people might have moved around the state. Districts have to all be approximately equal in population, so when the new census figures come out the state has to make sure that they're still approximately equal. If they're not, the state has to change them so they are.


14

What is the purpose of districts? The purpose of districts is so that different areas have their own representation. This allows their local concerns to have a voice and gives residents in the district a point-of-contact to whom they may directly voice their concerns. A given member of the U.S. House of Representatives or of the legislature of a state ...


9

Every state, including those that neither gain nor lose seats in the House of Representatives, is supposed to adjust their Congressional boundaries every ten years to accommodate population changes, per the US constitution. Many states see this as an opportunity for even more gerrymandering (or re-gerrymandering in the case that the state legislature ...


8

A majority of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus represent majority-minority districts. Many of those districts are the result of gerrymanders that aim to comply with Section 2 or Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (the two reasons courts have accepted for permitting racial gerrymanders). It would be difficult to write HR 1 in such a way ...


7

Whilst different people may have different beliefs as to what is the 'proper purpose', it might be informative to have a look at the opinion of the Australian Electoral Committee (AEC). This is the organisation that draws electoral boundaries in Australia. There are few to no accusations of politicisation of the AEC. What criteria are used to draw the ...


6

You're talking about contiguity, which refers to the idea that a district is one piece (physically adjacent). A district with a section located in another district – like an island – is not contiguous. Like the related matters of compactness and preservation of political subdivisions, the issue of contiguity is left to the discretion of each ...


6

A candidate: Lectures delivered before the American Institution of Instruction, Boston, August, 1841, pg 186 The young should be prepared , by their education , to choose their rulers , and not be left in such ignorance as that the rulers shall choose their voters .


5

The Wikipedia link from the question includes a table showing the sizes since the 2010 census. These would be good for all elections from 2012 through 2020. The 2020 census would first affect the 2022 legislative election and the 2024 presidential election. Anyway, if we apply the actual states won by Trump as per current projections, we get an ...


5

No individual seat is going to be removed - that is, no one's going to say that say the 22nd Congressional District gets removed. Instead, ALL of the districts will have their boundaries redrawn, after which there will be 52 districts instead of 53. Some of the districts may be approximately the same as the old ones, some may be very different. It depends ...


4

The Israeli Knesset avoids gerrymandering by not drawing any district boundaries at all; it's elected by nationwide closed party list proportional representation.


4

Australian elections are generally held under the supervision, or threat of supervision, of independent electoral bodies, such as the Australian Electoral Commission. These commissions draw boundaries based on agreed rules and submissions. While most boundaries are drawn without malapportionment, Western Australia and Queensland are malapportioned ( http://...


4

The following two papers suggest a solution: A fair division solution to the problem of redistricting Fair Division and Redistricting The main idea is: instead of letting the governing party redistrict the entire state, let each of the two parties redistrict half of the state. Thus, gerrymandering is still possible, but the advantages of gerrymandering are ...


4

Gerrymandering does not conflict with the popular vote It’s no objection to either one of them to say that they might cause an outcome that is different from the popular vote. I don't know that that is true of gerrymandering. It would be more accurate to say that gerrymandering controls the circumstances of the popular vote. There is still a popular ...


4

It is possible to eliminate redistricting altogether. Redistricting is caused by geographic districts, which are inherently unfair: A third to half of the voters in a district are disenfranchised because their candidate loses. So no one reflecting their beliefs represents them. If you have districts that minimize boundary crossing, then the more ...


4

The 14th amendment includes: Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State ...


4

Gerrymandering in general is not unconstitutional (and I have not hear anyone seriously argue that it should be). Your question is likely spurred by recent SCOTUS looking into what is usually labeled extreme partisan gerrymandering in Gill vs Whitford, also known as Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case. The specific theory of the cases like that ...


4

Do they typically do this through gentleman's agreements, primary contests or some other means? In the vast majority of districts there will be primaries for the newly created district to determine who runs for that district in the general election. In the past, there were certainly 'gentleman's agreements' that guided this process to the point where a ...


4

All representatives must run for reelection after the redistricting, so if any two representatives are running in the same district, the voters in that district will decide which of them to send back to the house, or whether to pick someone new. The number of "safe" districts for each party will be determined through the redistricting process, as ...


3

All border lines are political. Generally, proper districting improves viability, while poor districting vitiates it. Proper districting avoids bad things like: Representatives, Governors, Executives, et al who can't even speak the language of those they represent. Representatives who are too geographically distant to be made aware of various emergencies ...


3

The process is spelled out in the Administrative Procedure Act. See, e.g., National Urban League v. Ross and Ohio v. Coggins. Basically, it amounts to a lawsuit against a federal government official in the chain of command involved in making the decision in question filed in a suitable U.S. District Court.


2

Here are two good articles on the current state of play w.r.t. gerrymandering in the USA: Wired NYT As these articles explain, given first-past-the-post and the districting system, a standard of 'overall efficiency gap' has been proposed as the measure to determine whether a given districting is fair or not. It seems like a good test for partisan ...


2

First, as @dan04 pointed out, proportional representation with large multi-seat districts (or even a single nationwide district) removes the issue. There are many different systems but that's basically how (the lower chamber of) parliament is elected in Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium and many other ...


2

Several states, like Iowa, also employ an independent/non-partisan committees (Iowa calls it the Legislative Services Agency) for redistricting. They propose new maps to the legislature for approval that are supposed to be based upon population data rather than political party interests.


2

One proposed way for the House of Representatives is to abolish districts altogether and go with Proportional Representation. Say we have the Bull Moose Party (BM), The Federalists (Fers), The Whigs (Wig), and The Prohibition Party (Pro) running in Maryland, which has 8 house seats. There would be two races in which the first one was for party ...


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