Friday, January 02, 2009

End Partisan Drawing Of Legislative Maps

A Star editorial gives thumbs up to legislative action on Sen. Mike Delph's proposed legislation to establish a nonpartisan commission to draw legislative boundaries rather than the legislature. "The goals are to foster more competitive elections, give challengers from both major parties a realistic chance at defeating incumbents and encourage more public participation in the political process," the editorial notes. Currently, twelve states have given authority to independent commissions to protect against the tried and true incumbent protection plan known as gerrymandering. Delph's proposal is contained in SB 198.


Paul K. Ogden said...

This is a reform that I would support. However, I would like to take a closer look at who would be on the Commission. Sometimes politics behind closed doors can be worse than politics out in the open.

varangianguard said...

AI, where is the text of SB 198? The LSA doesn't have it.

My initial feeling about this would be to compare it to similiar efforts stretching back into the Renaissance.

A bunch of guys sitting around a big table drawing lines on maps -without a clue as to what they're doing or why.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The GA's website doesn't have it posted yet. Your hunch about a bunch of guys sitting aroudn a table drawing line is off the mark. A computer program can draw the boundaries to make them as geographically compact as possible without reference to where certain lawmakers live or the political makeup of the population. That's what happens in Iowa. Essentially, the Commission relies on the work of computers and professional staff to produce the maps and, when assured the maps meet legal requirements, approves them.

varangianguard said...

Ho-ho-ho, and just where do you think computer programs come from - the PC fairy? You're over-simplifying. For a single example, what is the "best" defintion of "geographically compact"? Population alone? Population, adjusted by existing cadastral boundaries?

The point is, I didn't make my point. the output is only as good as the input.

The parameters for developing districting software may, or may not, fit any particular scenario. In effect, it's "one size fits all". Your example of Iowa though, if it works reasonably well, may actually be a fairly close "fit" for Indiana as well. I suppose I'll go look.

varangianguard said...

I went to look at ArcGIS and Maptitude's sites. Maptitude's site was easier to navigate, so I paid more attention to their software.

Quite an impressive array of tools, and input possibilities. But, contained within all that in the distinct possibility that bias could be introduced, yet be glossed over by the sheer volume of technical capabilities.

Also, I'm not sure if you, Paul and I couldn't do just as well as any "commission" with a day's familiarization and access to the digital Census data.

I suppose it would be the upfront part of the process that would concern me. Making sure that the parameters used would make a difference from the partisan agendas that drive the process here currently. The software seems to be fairly well developed, as you stated initially.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Again, it works in Iowa. You have more competitive state and congressional races there than just about any place else in the country. I wouldn't lose sleep over it. The chances our GA will pass this type of legislation is slim to none.

Anonymous said...

Computers are only as fair as the software running them and the user sitting in front of the keyboard

I wouldn't trust it as far as I could throw it, and to me this sounds like some random Republican throwing a tantrum cause there's one or two more of the other guys in Congress.

If the Republicans controlled the state house, they wouldn't hand over the crown jewels so fast, would they?

Downtown Indy said...

There SHOULD be a computer program used that pulls in the population from census data, and divides the state into appropriately sized districts based on (a) minimizing the distance around the district boundary and (b) ensuring the desired numbers of voters within each district.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Someone is way off the mark. This proposal will not benefit Rs in congressional redistricting. It is already a certainty that Rs will draw the congressional map, even if the House is controlled by Democrats. That will lead to a deadlock, which results in the appointment of a panel controlled by Republicans since they control the governor's office. That law benefitted the Dems in 2000 and 1990.

Anonymous said...


Don't get me wrong, I hate Gerrymandering as much as anyone, I've voted against Dan Burton in every election since I've been old enough to vote and never once came close to getting rid of him, I'm sure some people in Andre Carson's district have the same sentiments towards him.

If there was just a way to cut it on the line and guarantee a fair election, I wouldn't be so skeptical, but I guarantee you that won't happen.

Republicans or Democrats will draw the lines and the lines will favor the Republicans or Democrats.

We need to break the two party system by doing Instant Runoff Voting like they do in Australia, we'd end up with 4 or 5 parties that had to negotiate with one another.

Ted said...


When counting the electoral votes, either Congress finds by 1/8/09 that Obama, not being an Article II “natural born citizen”, fails to qualify as President whereupon Biden becomes the full fledged President under 3 USC 19 (free to pick his own VP such as Hillary) or thereafter defers to the Supreme Court to enjoin Obama’s inauguration with Biden becoming only Acting President under the 20th Amendment until a new President is duly determined.

The preferable choice, at least for the Democrats, should seem obvious.

Unknown said...

According to Mike, the bill hasn't been filed electronically, hence why it's not available in the system.

I expect to have it soon, or it will likely be available via LSA very shortly as well.

varangianguard and TheAlmightyCthulhu, is the current system preferable to you? It sure seems that way, with your seeming opposition to any reform.

Or, could it be that you are bitter that a Republican would propose this reform, while "The hair" stays silent protecting the status quo?

Paul K. Ogden said...


The counting of votes is purely a ministerial act. I don't think you would be able to do anything but give a vote total. Counting votes is not an opportunity to make the decision regarding the "natural born" question. Now, that's an issue for a court to decide, and I'm sure they won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

IndyPaul said...

Paul - I hate to encourage Ted, but objections can be made at the time the Congess convenes for the counting of electoral votes, i.e. many members of the House Black caucus attempted to object in 2000, but lacking a Senator joining, were overruled by Vice President Gore, acting as President of the Senate. It would be interesting to see if such an objection were attempted by a GOP House member this year, but he/she is not going to have any better luck getting a Senator to join than did the Democratic Reps in 2000. The "natural born" issue, to the extent there ever was one, is dead.