(Subtitle) Why your state elections matter, now more than ever
You're about to hear a LOT more about this....
Gerrymandering is one of the least understood and most important issues facing America right now.
I have a short version explanation, but this is not that. For the short version you'll need to find me in person and be aware that I will use foul language.
There are loads of resources written by very smart people that you can access online and in books. Please do so.
Below is my KarenSplained™ version. If you don't know a lot about gerrymandering, stick with me for just a minute here.
You'll be glad you did- because learning is FUN. 😘
The practice of manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts for the explicit benefit of a party or group is as old as the United States.
In recent years, the practice has become one of the chief reasons that your sense that something is broken is, well... exactly correct.
(For the purpose of this exercise I will be using examples from the Great State of Texas. Other states have other examples. I urge you to explore them.)
From Me to Someone Else in My District
The map above is of the Dallas County, Texas House of Representatives voting districts.
My representative in the Texas House from District 103 (a Democrat) was elected by people in my neighborhood in Dallas and by people who live more than 20 miles away from me.
When traveling from my house to the other end of my representative's district, I pass through portions of 4 other districts.
This map is just an example. There are also district maps that dictate my Congressional representative in D.C., State Senate, etc, that are also whack.
That seems weird, huh? Also notice how all of the other districts in Dallas County are shaped. Why is that, you ask?....
Simple answer. Packing and cracking.
And you have it, too.
Here's why gerrymandering matters ......
HOW DONALD TRUMP WON THE ELECTION, DESPITE LOSING THE POPULAR VOTE!
Districts are redrawn every 10 years after the U.S. census. Those census numbers effect redistricting in each state.
The new districts are drawn by the governing body of each individual state. That means it is all done by the elected representatives in your state legislature.
In Texas, the districts are drawn by members of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
Other states may use different terminology for those elected bodies, such as General Assembly, etc..
Do you know the names of your current state representatives and the candidates running against them in November?
In my experience, many of you do not know those names.
But guess what?
THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT DRAW THE MAPS.
Your state legislators draw the maps that elect your Members of Congress, your State Legislature and
YOUR STATE'S INFLUENCE ON THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE TOTALS!
Below is an excellent link from the Washington Post that explains how that last part works:
So what's happening right now?
This. Happened. In Texas.
In August of 2017 a federal court in San Antonio ruled that parts of Texas' statehouse maps are intentionally discriminatory and ordered districts in four counties, including Dallas and Tarrant, redrawn.
The court agreed with the plaintiffs' claim that the state had packed Latinos into House Districts 103 and 104 in Dallas.
"Specifically, the Court found that map draw-ers improperly used race to make HD 103 and HD 104 more Hispanic and HD 105 more Anglo to protect an Anglo Republican," U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez wrote on behalf of the panel.
The Republican Attorney General of Texas requested a stay in the proceedings. (Naturally)
Right now, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear four gerrymandering cases-from Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina and Texas. These cases are likely to be heard in April of 2018.
Because of the complexity of gerrymandering abuses, the outcome of these cases is not likely to settle every issue surrounding the subject.
But you can still help create change.
It always comes back to this.......
If you think that something is rotten right now, it is.
And it's not just the president.
Also, I'm sorry to say that the Electoral College is not going away any time soon.
STILL, you can have a huge impact on how these maps are drawn and how you are represented in Washington D. C., in your state legislature and in the Electoral College.
It's that simple.
Get out of your chair, get into the street.