Time: We Must Address Gerrymandering


In an era in which partisanship determines the electoral choices of most voters and the behavior of elected representatives in Congress and state legislatures, it is essential that the collective will of the electorate be reflected in the partisan composition of legislatures. Yet this straightforward notion of partisan fairness is often undermined by partisan gerrymandering. The Campaign Legal Centerreports than in 2012, in six state legislatures (Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), the gerrymandering party received a minority of the statewide vote, yet still retained control of the legislature. The most notorious of these was in the purple state of Wisconsin, where the new partisan map virtually guarantees Republican majorities in the Assembly for the entire decade—whatever the popular vote. That same year, Republicans retained their majority in House even though Democrats won a larger share of the national vote. Not all of that discrepancy can be laid at the feet of partisan gerrymandering; the more efficient geographical distribution of Republican voters across the country helps as well. Nonetheless, scholars estimate that Republicans control 10 to 15 more seats in the House as a result of their control of more state governments and the partisan maps that emerge from them.

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