Unintended consequences of gerrymandering

Most people have now heard about the NC GOP mutiny against Thom Tillis in the failure of House bill 1224.

Why couldn't Tillis corral his Republican caucus? He rules through fear and intimidation, and it's rare that his party colleagues cross him.

Well, perhaps the very gerrymandering that put him in his position of power also cost him the ability to get what he wants when the stakes are high.

“[Tillis] is one of the most criticized speakers in modern times and, because of redistricting, does not hold the same degree of power over caucus members through controlling huge amounts of campaign money that people need for reelection,” [Meredith College political science expert David] McLennan said.

This is something I've been waiting for

If you've followed gerrymandering cases at all, you come face to face with a very weird reality. Our laws generally say it's just fine to discriminate against voters based on any other criteria besides race. So all the convoluted districts designed to achieve political goals by discriminating against members of another political party, for example, have been considered to be just fine. Until now.

Here's the headline from the LA Times: Florida redistricting illegally favors Republicans.

A Florida judge ruled the state's congressional district map invalid Thursday night, saying it violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts and instead favors Republicans.

W-S Journal feature story on Republican gerrymandering

The Winston-Salem Journal has an in-depth front-page look at the Republican gerrymandering that has mucked up North Carolina's political landscape, including a helpful infographic.

The 2012 election should have been a good one for Democrats running for Congress in North Carolina.

They received a total of 2.2 million votes — about 81,000 more than their Republican opponents. But when those votes were divvied up among the state's 13 House districts, Democrats came up short. Way short.

Republicans won nine seats and Democrats only four.

Slaying the gerrymander?

Former Gov. Jim Martin weighs in on "the Justus plan", an idea to overcome the illegitimate gerrymandered elections that gave right-wing nut jobs super-majorities in Raleigh with about half of the popular vote.

Could it work? Maybe. But it would take significant voter engagement and turnout, and that's been chronically difficult.

But if something isn't done soon, the GOP's efforts to further dilute and ultimately deny the votes of those who don't vote for them will be effective.

A map that might be useful for challenging NC's voting districts

Slate has a piece on a map created from 2010 census data that visualizes race in America in a new way.

The researchers who created it, used census data to pinpoint every single person in the country, based on race. It allows you to see specific distribution of whites and minorities in towns and neighborhoods.

Anyone with some computer expertise that could do some custom views of this map and analysis about NC's voting districts?

Any other ideas on what you could do with this kind of data and visualization?

Article at Slate - Map at Cooper Center

Redistricting litigation: a question for lawyers

This is an open question to the attorneys and others involved in challenging North Carolina's legislative and Congressional districts. Why not challenge the foundation of partisan redistricting as violating the fundamental principles of democracy and equality ... not limited to issues of race?

It's my understanding that the legal arguments have been constructed around racial discrimination, relying on historical precedent (which was undermined by the US Supreme Court's ruling on the Voting Rights Act). That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. As happened in Texas, Republicans in North Carolina have set out to increase their electoral strength through gerrymandering. Yes, it's a long-standing practice of corruption, but that doesn't make it any less despicable.

Redistricting: NAACP files appeal to State Supreme Court

Redistricting: NAACP files appeal to State Supreme Court

Their notice of appeal comes two weeks after a panel of three Superior Court judges validated the legislative and congressional districts intended to be used through the 2020 elections. They had 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court.

The NAACP, Democrats and voter-rights organizations challenging the maps argue that they are racial gerrymanders designed to weaken the influence of black voters.

Gerrymandering in NC gets national attention

I thought computers were supposed to free us from tyranny:

The point man for the strategy was Thomas Hofeller, who would not speak with the Globe on the record, citing ongoing lawsuits in multiple states in which he has been called to testify, including in North Carolina. Hofeller, a redistricting consultant to the Republican National Committee, has been hired by state legislators across the country to gain maximum political advantage without running afoul of the law, including the Voting Rights Act designed to ensure that African-Americans are not disenfranchised.

Yeah, this dude's a veteran at the art of disenfranchising voters, and for the edification of any attorneys and other court officials adjudicating the redistricting lawsuits, he's also a good coach:

GOP apologist Christensen strikes again

Creating a fictional moderate majority:

House Republicans rolled out their voter ID bill, which was less restrictive than the one vetoed by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue two years ago. Democrats and others will still hate it, but it will take some of the air out of the opposition. Because of some of the provisions, it is far less likely that grandma, students or poor people won’t be able to vote compared to the earlier version. The GOP had the votes to adopt any voter ID bill they wanted. But House Republicans decided against the hard-line approach.

What Rob has missed (or chosen not to include in his narrative) is that there is no substantial difference between the phrases "won't be able to vote" and "won't vote", as far as how they impact elections, anyway. There's a reason Republicans have different (harsher) versions of the same bill, and Christensen just proved the reasoning for that was sound. It's a basic sales technique (bracketing,) which creates a false "moderate" that can be chosen. And if you want to create a false moderate group of people, you set aside a smaller group via "labeling":

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