Northern California Engineering Contractors Association

Why Is Gerrymandering Legal and How Does It Work

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Some states have established impartial redistricting commissions with redistricting powers. Washington,[76] Arizona,[77] and California established standing committees for reclassification after the 2010 census. However, it has been argued that the California Standing Committee has failed to stop gerrymandering. [78] Rhode Island[79] and the New Jersey Redistricting Commission have established ad hoc committees, but have linked the last two decennial redistributions to new census data. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and supported by four other conservative justices, states that to assess allegations of partisan electoral boundaries, judges need a “limited and precise standard” that would be “clear, manageable and politically neutral.” But no one offered any, the court said. Several state court decisions have declared partisan gerrymandering illegal under state constitutions, and several state election measures were passed in 2018 requiring nonpartisan commissions for the 2020 redistricting cycle. Challenges to House maps in North Carolina and Maryland have highlighted new legal arguments against partisan gerrymandering, including that the practice penalizes voters who vote for a particular party. The “gerrymandering” of prisons has been criticized for distorting racial demography and thus political representation. [64] A 2021 article in the New York Times argued that since prisoners are disproportionate people of color from urban areas incarcerated in rural areas, “counting the people in whom they are incarcerated takes political power away from racial minorities in cities and transfers it to whites in rural areas.” [65] State legislators: Currently, 33 states assign redistricting to their legislators. Unfortunately, as lawmakers draw their own lines, there`s plenty of room for political bias and gerrymandering. The ability to create a district map has been supported by advances in computing power and capabilities.

Using geographic information systems and census data as inputs, cartographers can use computers to process many potential map configurations to achieve desired results, including biased gerrymandering. [14] Computers can assess voters` preferences and use them to “pack” or “decipher” votes in electoral districts. Vote packing refers to the concentration of voters in a constituency by redrawing the boundaries of Congress so that those who oppose the party responsible for the redivision are placed in a larger constituency, thereby reducing the party`s representation in Congress. The crack is to dilute the voting power of opposition voters in many districts by redrawing the boundaries of Congress in such a way as to reduce the population of electoral minorities in each district, thereby reducing the likelihood of a district-focused congressional takeover. Both techniques lead to what the Times calls “wasted votes,” votes that do not yield a party`s victory. It can be either a surplus of votes in a riding for a party that is above the threshold required for victory, or any vote that resulted in a defeat. [15] A University of Delaware study mentions situations in which an incumbent who must live in the county he represents may be “kidnapped” or “kidnapped” due to the redrawing of congressional boundaries in an adjacent county, then taking him to districts where he is more difficult to win. [16] Partisan electoral boundaries often have advantages for a particular political party.

Or, in some cases, a race. In Shelby County, v. Holder (2013), the Court ruled by 5 votes to 4 that section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional because the registration formula was based on data more than 40 years old, so that it no longer met current needs and therefore placed an excessive burden on the constitutional principles of federalism and equal sovereignty of the Länder. The court did not delete Article 5, but without Article 4(b), no jurisdiction is subject to prior approval of Article 5 unless Congress adopts a new cover formula. [61] By striking down section 5, the Court removed federal jurisdiction over issues arising from gerrymandering. [62] In 2004, in Vieth v. Jubelirer, a majority of the Court, demonstratively accepted what the Bandemer Court had rejected, arguing that since the Bandemer judgment, “no legally recognizable and manageable standard for ruling on gerrymandering political claims has emerged.” Although Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the majority in opposing the challenge to the political gerrymander in question, he stated that not enough time had passed since Bandemer to conclude that no appropriate standard could ever emerge (“according to the chronology of the law, 18 years is rather a short period”).