54

This is a rather simple mathematical exercise. If you allow me total freedom to draw districts within the current requirements, I can place anyone in any district I want provided they have equal population in the end. Connectedness in two dimensions is not enough of a barrier to stop this. In that case, my best bet is to fill as many districts as possible ...


32

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 ...


26

Republican Party had an unfair advantage in elections for the House of Representatives. This advantage would be geographic. Well, "Fair" is in the eye of the beholder :) But the geographic advantage in the House of Representatives is undisputably there. FiveThirtyEight covers it in detail in Feb 2013 post "Did Democrats Get Lucky in the Electoral ...


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, ...


17

The problem here is that "one person one vote" can be based on residents rather than citizens or voters. So if you could assign people purely arbitrarily, you could fill up your districts with non-voters such that only a small number of voters are required. In theory, one voter and eight hundred thousand non-voters per district would work. Pack all 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 ...


15

Right off the bat, it's important to note that since 1931, Democrats have won 31 of the last 41 House elections, historically by wide margins. So if they are playing with a disadvantage, they handle themselves pretty well. It is true that people representing urban areas tend to get comically large margins of victory. But Republicans in rural areas tend to ...


15

How did gerrymandering evolve from a practice applied by one senator in Massachusetts to something commonly applied across the US? Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts is normally considered the inspiration for the term. He was not a Senator but a governor. And he was not the source of the practice (even in Massachusetts in 1812, he only agreed with ...


14

Yes, everyone complains about gerrymandering when the gerrymandering doesn't help them. To answer your questions specifically, there is an ongoing case in Maryland where the Democrats are accused of using gerrymandering to unseat Republican representative Roscoe Bartlett.


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 ...


10

This has actually happened. Lesotho is one of the four or so countries to use the MMP system. In the 2007 general election, the ruling party voluntarily split in two, fielding only electorate candidates in one party and instructing their followers to vote for the other party for their list vote. They obtained something like 75% of the seats for only 52% of ...


10

Yes, it definitely could happen. The mathematical version of gerrymandering is easily expressed in integer programming, as shown here (for people who like MIPs). In its simplest version (without geographical considerations and vote uncertainty), the gerrymandering problem amounts to a simple partitionning problem. Let us assume you are a daredevil (there ...


9

Extremley. The practice is sometimes referred to as "parachuting candidates". All the major parties do it.


8

Votes in lost circumscriptions count toward the headline percentage of the popular vote you will hear about after the general election and also increase the amount of funding the party will be able to claim from the state (in the UK and elsewhere there is some state funding for political parties based in part on the number of votes gained in the last ...


8

Has the Republican party ever seen the same sort of disparity that is quoted in the above Reuters article on Wisconsin? Despite receiving 51 percent of the votes statewide in 2012, Democrats won only 39 of 99 Assembly seats. In 2014, Republicans won roughly the same percentage of votes statewide, but won 63 seats, a 24-seat disparity, judges wrote. ...


8

Many countries (in Europe and elsewhere) use some sort of proportional representation with multiple seats per district. Districts are very stable, possibly as large as a US state or even just a single national district. If demographic changes are so large as to threaten the balance between different regions, you can rebalance by removing or adding seats in ...


7

Leaving aside the obvious illegitimacy and dishonesty in this course of action (which would cost some votes and more reputation) and the ability of courts in common law countries to mitigate patent fraud (unless the Crimson and Pink parties actually put forward separate legislative platforms to the voters, rivals could simply bring suit to treat them as the ...


7

The very informative answer given by "Relaxed" covers all the main points, but is a little off the mark in one small respect, which I'd like to expand on. When it comes to finding candidates to contest unwinnable seats a party does not usually have to seek out party members who are committed enough to stand yet don't mind forgoing a political career by ...


7

Definitions: Your State's Laws Congressional boundaries are set by states, not the federal government. According to the Massachusetts Secretary of State you can find the current definitions here (2011 Session Laws, Chapter 152, Section 3). An example definition from Massachusetts is: Bristol and Norfolk - Consisting of the city of Attleboro, ward 3, ...


7

It did happen. In the US in 2006, the Democrats took the House of Representatives after twelve years of Republican control. Four years later the Republicans took back the House. Both were wave elections (34 seats in 2006 and 64 in 2010). Then there was a redistricting, which Democrats complain that Republicans gerrymandered. Republicans then lost seats ...


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

When courts draw maps, do they gerrymander? Courts do not draw maps, though they have authority to invalidate maps drawn. 2 U.S. Code § 2c. Number of Congressional Districts; number of Representatives from each District In each State entitled in the Ninety-first Congress or in any subsequent Congress thereafter to more than one Representative under an ...


6

Generally voting districts in a state are defined and controlled by the state legislature. Let's use my home state, North Carolina, as an example. N.C. currently has 13 congressional districts. In the United States we hold a decennial census (every 10 years). There are other population surveys done in between, but once every decade is the big one where we ...


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

The Daily Kos reports that Donald Trump and a Republican Representative won 218 congressional districts in 2016. That's an absolute majority. Trump-Republican 218 Trump-Democrat 12 Clinton-Republican 23 Clinton-Democrat 182 So we can see that Trump received a plurality of the vote in 230 congressional districts while the Republican ...


5

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 ...


5

The Electoral College is the body of 538 delegates representing the electoral points each State has. These delegates cast their votes in the general election for president and almost always vote the way their state voted. This is what was making the news following Trump's victory because many people were hoping delegates would change their vote to Clinton. ...


5

What you think of is effectively a proportional representation system, except for the twist that different representatives get fractional votes. In some legislatures, at least some votes are secret ballots. With fractional votes, that would be easy to analyze. You are still ignoring the vote of the people who voted for C. This can be desirable, as it ...


5

One of the problems is that people look at Gerrymandering from the lens of Republicans vs Democrats. It's not - it's a terrible example of the two parties working together. Imagine you belong to Team Yellow, and you've been elected - but it was kinda close. There's a heavy Pro-Purple area along the northern edge of your district that nearly cost you your ...


5

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.


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