The Art of Redistricting

How your political destiny is mapped (and who charts the course).

RECENT POSTS

Interactive Map: U.S. Congressional Representation by State

Includes: interactive map

Click on any state to see the number of current seats it’s represented by in Congress (based on the 2010 Census population figures) and the change – if any – since 2000. The darker the shade of green, the greater the number of seats.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Redistricting, California Style: Letting the “People” Draw the Maps

Includes: article; video; radio clip

2011 State Congressional Districts_California Citizens Redistricting Commission

Gerrymandering: it ain’t nothing new in California politics.

For much of the state’s history, the legislature has firmly controlled the once-a-decade redistricting process. New district lines are typically redrawn in a way that directly favors whichever party is in control.

Demographic techniques like splitting apart cities, carving up ethnic enclaves, and leaping across vast geographic swaths to bundle like-minded voters are common gerrymandering tools long used by pols to solidify power. Continue reading

The Strange Geometry of Gerrymandering (redistricting’s dark side)

Includes: article; animation

A political cartoon from 1812 criticizing Massachusetts state senate electoral districts drawn by the legislature to favor candidates in Governor Elbridge Gerry's party. (Wikimedia Commons)

When lawmakers control the redistricting process – as they do in most states -  self-interest inevitably plays a big role in how electoral maps are redrawn. It puts the power in the hands of incumbent legislators eager to squash political competition. A Republican lawmaker would likely want to redraw his own district to include as many Republican voters as possible; and vice-verse for a Dem. Continue reading

Redistricting Revealed: The Basics

Includes: article; video; maps

Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to the wild world of redistricting.

We’re in the heat of election season, so you’ve likely heard it mentioned a bunch recently. But how exactly does redistricting work? And, more importantly, why should you care?

Redistricting can be a pretty confusing process, and because it’s so complicated, a lot of voters don’t know much about it, or how it applies to them. But it has a pretty major impact on the power balance of our political system, and on how much your vote ends up counting on election day. Continue reading

The Colbert Super PAC

To point out the absurdities of Super PACs, the comedian Stephen Colbert jumped in the fray, and formed his own. Initially called the Citizens for a Better Tomorrow  (he’s been switching the name around) it’s kind of a joke but also technically legitimate, with over a million dollars collected in donations already! In promoting it, Colbert emphasizes the very loose rules. Take a look: