All over the map: Behind the scenes, redrawing the political landscape

Every election cycle, millions of dollars are spent on political ads, debates, rallies and photo-ops – all designed to influence our votes. Yet what really matters in the long run might be something much less exciting than image and personality. It’s the time-honored bit of political cartography called redistricting. A process that plays out in the back rooms of state legislatures, far from the cameras, redistricting is critical to the way our country is run.While media and political junkies follow candidates’ every move and statement, the real action is happening out of the public eye. Congressional districts are being redrawn and some of the most familiar members of Congress risk losing their seats before a vote is even cast. But the state of California is blazing new ground with a radical approach to statewide redistricting. Need to Know’s Mona Iskander speaks with redistricting expert David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report to help put that new plan into context.

 

Comments

  • Jim4mars

    California’s so called “Ribbon of Shame” district is often pointed to as the worst of Gerrymandering. But in reality it is not.  For many years the people living inland of the coast complained that they were not well represented.  The mostly agricultural, rural and Republican people wanted a Representative that would understand their needs.  Conversely, most of the people living along the coastal regions were more business, urban and Democratic.  So it became apparent years ago that a coastal district made the most sense. 
      Unfortunately, for the last few years a group of uninformed Republicans have pointed to this coastal district as one of the worst deals of back room politics.   Where in reality abolishing the coastal district will most likely be unfortunate for rural Republics.  A district that is somewhat arbitrarily drawn will almost always be dominated by the more densely populated coastal region. 
      It’s hard to tell how the new Redistricting Commission will handle these diverging needs.  I wouldn’t be surprised if after the new districts are drawn that there will still be a district that somewhat resembles the one that is currently in place. 

  • http://www.findingtimothy.org/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=1 MEMCI

    In 2010 November election, 63 percent of Florida voters approved the adoption of Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida State Constitution for redistricting the state and federal legislatures. The process has started with members of state legislators suing  to overcome the voice of the people. I am amazed that our situation was either not known or bypassed. I encourage you to check it out with Jackie Lee, Executive Director,. FairDistrictsNow.org  in Miami. We the voters are doing all we can to stand up to the incumbent legislators who are fighting tooth and nail to overcome the voters’choice. Our tax money is being used by state legislators to overthrow our vote while we the voters use our tax money to defend the justice of our votes to amend the Florida state constitution accordingly.

  • Allenhip

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    The
    Florida Republicans are trying to do end run around Amendments 5 & 6
    through corrupted software by removing geometric calculations, as there are three
    methods to obtain these figures to stop Gerrymandering. I did sent a 20 page
    whitepaper to John Guthrie Fl State Senate, Select Committee on Apportionment
    & Redistricting, I originally sent the 2006 version; this version has since
    been updated in 2010.

     

    We
    know that “No mathematical formula is likely to adequately correct for all of
    the geographical and social variability that can result in irregular district
    shapes.”  But when the authors
    wrote Amendments 5 & 6 they implicitly implied that the processes include a
    geometric measure of compactness as part of the process.

     

    When
    Republicans say you “do not need Reock, Convex Hull, Polsby-Popper and
    Schwartzberg scores to know what makes sense for creating compact districts”.
    What they really mean is no one in court can challenge a subjective term it
    looks OK to me.

     

    This is NOT the only problem with the “MyDistrictBuilder” software. The
    other is a source code problem with Silverlight, which is a browser plug-in
    with major problems with all Power PC computers and/or non-Intel computers and
    is a mandatory requirement to run MyDistrictBuilder.
     

  • Allenhip

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    The
    Florida Republicans are trying to do end run around Amendments 5 & 6
    through corrupted software by removing geometric calculations, as there are three
    methods to obtain these figures to stop Gerrymandering. I did sent a 20 page
    whitepaper to John Guthrie Fl State Senate, Select Committee on Apportionment
    & Redistricting, I originally sent the 2006 version; this version has since
    been updated in 2010.

     

    We
    know that “No mathematical formula is likely to adequately correct for all of
    the geographical and social variability that can result in irregular district
    shapes.”  But when the authors
    wrote Amendments 5 & 6 they implicitly implied that the processes include a
    geometric measure of compactness as part of the process.

     

    When
    Republicans say you “do not need Reock, Convex Hull, Polsby-Popper and
    Schwartzberg scores to know what makes sense for creating compact districts”.
    What they really mean is no one in court can challenge a subjective term it
    looks OK to me.

     

    This is NOT the only problem with the “MyDistrictBuilder” software. The
    other is a source code problem with Silverlight, which is a browser plug-in
    with major problems with all Power PC computers and/or non-Intel computers and
    is a mandatory requirement to run MyDistrictBuilder.
     

  • Karen Bavouset

    Some of these ribbon of shame strips along the coast are only 2 feet wide.  You need to do some more investigating before you make comments like this.  These lines were drawn for the benefit of the people representing a certain area so that they would never be replaced by election.  Now, someone else will have a chance to run and maybe win a seat by at the voters will rather than the so called arbitrary lines.

  • Jim4mars

    Much of California’s 23rd district is very narrow because the distance for the coastline to the mountains is narrow.  There are some places where the mountains are up against the coastline.  Therefore very narrow strips. But YOUR facts are wrong, there is no place where the district is only 2 feet wide.  
      Which is better, a district with appropriate representation or a pretty map ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/2creus Linda Larned

    the districts in Northern CA depend on tourism, national and state parks and fishing.  The central valley has interests that conflict with our needs.   Our interests are things like protecting the salmon, removing dams on the Klamath river and returning the river to what it once was.  Agri-business in the valley wants the water from the river.  I hope we can stay in the district along the coast.  Not west to east.  It’s not supposed to be political strength but districts with like interests belonging together.  Once you go over the mountain range into the valley it’s very different with different needs/interests.

  • Taylor8512

    My father a hardware engineer at intel recently discussed his frustration about how the whole process of redistricting California was being done. By his judgement, good districts were drawn without political bias, but with population and geographic location in mind. To him the best solution seemed obvious, a computer program. He said if this were a problem for intel to solve it would take 3 people 6 months. One person to head the project, one person to write the program, and another to check the work. Not hundreds of people and thousands of dollars. sounded like a good point so im floating the idea here