Boots & Sabers

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1529, 07 Jan 17

Political Gerrymandering


A federal district court is attempting to nullify the results of the last four elections in Wisconsin by declaring that the state legislature does not have enough Democrats. “Political gerrymandering” by the Republican-controlled state legislature, the court has concluded, has caused such an unfair result in favor of Republicans in the state legislature as to constitute a violation of the Equal Protection Clause—a conclusion that the Supreme Court has never reached.

In Article I, Section 4’s language about the “time, place, and manner” of holding elections for the federal House and Senate, the Constitution provides that state legislatures shall draw up voting districts for elections to the U.S. House. The Constitution says nothing about the drawing up of legislative districts for state offices.

That was considered a state political prerogative under federalism—until the Supreme Court repealed its own precedents and drastically altered the “political question” doctrine in its reapportionment and redistricting decisions in Baker v. Carr (1962), Westberry v. Sanders (1964), and Reynolds v. Sims (1964). With the passage of the Voting Right Act in 1965, the Supreme Court’s supervision of both federal and state reapportionment became comprehensive.


The “efficiency gap” and “wasted votes” calculations may sound rather simple, but they are in fact based on sophisticated statistical interpretations by experts involving software models, regression analyses, and “S curves.” That is, unlike the act of voting, they are removed from the comprehension of the vast majority of citizens. So, the new model elections will be decided by these new means. Thus, voting, the first act of citizenship, will be regulated by courts and the experts they give credence to.


1529, 07 January 2017

1 Comment

  1. jjf

    ‘S’ curves are too difficult for you to understand?

    Is there any reason we the public shouldn’t be able to examine the methodologies used by the WisGOP in their realignment of the districts?

    Oh, wait, they conducted the process off-site, in secret, and then erased the hard drives as soon as someone asked about it.

    Where’s the outcry about this?  Is there any reason why this process should’ve been secret?

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