Skip to comments.Make Redistricting Better By Making It Color-Blind
Posted on 10/21/2015 9:23:00 AM PDT by Kaslin
HILLARY CLINTON played the race card in Alabama last week, telling Democrats that plans to close 31 underused satellite offices of the state's Department of Motor Vehicles are evidence of Republican racism. The closings were compelled by spending cuts enacted by a GOP-majority legislature facing a budget crisis, but Clinton slammed it as "a blast from the Jim Crow past," since most of the branch offices are in predominantly black rural towns and Alabamans have to show photo identification when they vote.
"Fifty years after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and John Lewis bled," Clinton said, "it is hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether or not every American gets a chance to vote."
It's a scurrilous charge. No one is having that "debate," certainly not in Alabama, which has more black elected officials than nearly every other state and where black voter turnout has climbed to record highs. The DMV offices in question process less than five percent of all driver's license transactions. The "Jim Crow past" — part of the Democratic Party's ugly racial legacy — is not being revived, not in Alabama or anywhere else. It is dishonest demagoguery to pretend otherwise.
But dishonesty and demagoguery proliferate when political power is at stake. And far too much political power is entangled in a voting-rights system that continues to sort voters by race long after black disenfranchisement has disappeared.
Massachusetts was reminded last week of former House Speaker Thomas Finneran's false testimony in a 2003 lawsuit, which claimed that a legislative redistricting plan discriminated against "black-preferred candidates" in Boston while protecting white incumbents. Finneran was convicted, disbarred, and stripped of his state pension, which a municipal judge has now restored. But the underlying travesty had little to do with Finneran, and everything to do with color-conscious district-drawing.
The original goal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the noted legal scholar Richard Epstein observes in a recent essay, "was to increase black participation to the level of white participation." That target has not only been met, but surpassed: Black voter turnout rates now exceed white turnout rates. To insist in 2015 that states have an obligation to deliberately maximize black political influence through redistricting is anachronistic at best, and condescendingly self-defeating at worst.
In 1960, after the Alabama legislature redrew Tuskegee's borders in order to exclude black voters from the municipal voting rolls, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that such blatant racial manipulation was a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. But the court later abandoned that principled stand. Now it actively encourages such race-based mapmaking, leading to tortured litigation over the details of packing X number of districts with Y percentage of minority voters — and generating no end of poisonous rhetoric about reviving "the Jim Crow past" or betraying the cause for which King gave his life.
Voting-rights law has gone off the rails, argues Epstein, and the longer the Supreme Court tolerates race-conscious rules in drawing district lines, the worse the political damage will get. The old rule — voters' skin color may not be considered when electoral districts are drawn — is the better rule, less polarizing and more decent. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments should be read to enjoin strict colorblindness when state legislatures make their maps.
The means to that end is not rocket science. While continuing to require that districts be roughly equal in population, the court should require as well that they be geometrically compact, and that they take no account of voters' party registration or voting history. The parameters couldn't be simpler; a computer could do the job. Incumbent politicians might lose the ability to choose their constituents. But voters would be equal at last, exercising their franchise under a Constitution that is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.
There should be no accounting for race, gender, or local political boundaries. These have been gamed by both parties.
Someone has already done it, using a distributed computing client:
You can run the client yourself, and contribute.
See the website for "before" and "after" maps, and the algorithm that he uses.
No, the practical impact would be to elect more white democrats, fewer black democrats and fewer republicans.
Neither party will go for this.
the Dhimmicraps won’t because minorities are about all teh constituency they have left.
The Republicans won’t because, quite frankly, when you pack minorities (who are overwhelmingly Democrats) into a few districts, you wind up packing the other districts with Republican voters.
Blacks and other dem-voting idiots should be packed in super-safe districts to minimize the number of democrats in office.
I don’t see why any conservative would have a problem with that.
Spreading Blacks out will just lead to White democrats being elected instead of Black democrats and White Republicans.
Your “impartial” thingy is a ticket to Pelsoi town. The dems already cheat at elections, we can’t help them out.
Exactly......let non partisan analysts program computers to select districts based on geographical compatibility, etc.
Take the politics out of it. Legislators have more pressing matters than to ensure their own political survivors
I am of the opinion that redistricting should follow these guidelines:
1) determine the number of voters that is to be used as the per district target.
2) start with the address of the state capital building and draw a circular-ish pattern that encompass enough residents to come within +/- 3% of the target. Then align the district by adjusting the boundaries by:
- first use zipcodes
- then use streets
- then use physical geographic boundaries (rivers, hills, etc)
3) When the first district is completed, move to the next most populated city and starting from that city hall, repeat the process for the 2nd district.
4) continue and repeat this process until there is only 1 district that remains to be assigned. That district would be all others.
5) The final process would be the “trading” phase that would be used to compact the districts by trading population zip codes to minimize the size of the districts and smooth the boundaries. Boundaries being defined again by zip codes, streets and then geographic boundaries.
While this system is not perfect, it would work to minimize the really oddly constructed districts.
“Colorblind” voting districts are actually ILLEGAL for Southern states under the Voting ‘Rights’ Act. We have to create “majority minority” districts just for them.
Don’t understand, that horse left the barn decades ago. Imagine IRS trying to do taxes without computers.
They are hypocrites, that’s why they never cared
Voter fraud's traditionally done in black communities...
Those who don't show up are 'voted'... by the precinct captains. That fact might have something to do with high 'participation' rates.
Maybe the FBI could post a few cameras outside of random voter stations and stop voter fraud. Oh - wait - the FBI works for democrats and lives in the make believe world of PC... forgot...
Personally, if you just make a federal law that said you had to use county lines as the dividing point....we’d all be satisfied. The general public....I think over 70-percent....would agree to that mentality.
You don’t think they use computers today for redistricing analysis and sample districts, with demographic info?
Of course they do. Now mix in the politics and what you get is ridiculous gerrymandering
The dirty little secret about gerrymandering is that it’s done specifically so that it will create “minority-majority” districts that will elect blacks and Hispanics.
The Democrats originally engineered it specifically for this purpose. They failed to realise at the time that in doing so, they would enrich the surrounding districts with whites, making them more Republican.
When Democrats talk about “ending gerrymandering” and “making redistricting more fair,” what they’re basically saying is that they’re willing to throw black and Hispanic elected officials under the bus so as to try to become more competitive in white districts (with white candidates, by and large).
Democrats are still the most racist pigs in the country. History proves that.
Why can’t ANY GOP candidate other than Dr. Carson point this out?
I’m supposed to believe blacks with Iphones can’t get ID’s?
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