Sunday, August 14, 2005

The off-again, on-again redistricting proposal

My district: gerrymandering at work
California's Prop. 77, the constitutional amendment to put redistricting in the hands of three retired judges picked by the legislature, is back on the special election ballot. While I don't understand the hurry to put these initiatives before the voters--or in the case of Prop 77, to rush a redistricting plan into effect by next summer--I don't think these are very good reasons to oppose this bill. I think Greens should support it, even though it was proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Yes, I can see why Republicans would like this plan--it gives them a chance to gain a bit of ground in Congress and the legislature without much risk. Reapportionment may help Republicans in the short term, but it might also lead to more democratic elections and better government longterm. And it isn't going to suddenly make California more conservative.

We know that gerrymandering is a problem in this state and this country, and that the current redistricting process is broken. This might be our only chance to fix it. The Democrats' proposal doesn't seem any better.

It has been pointed out that a better way to increase fair representation would be multi-district elections using proportional representation. Unfortunately, that is not close to happening. To paraphrase wisdom, we shouldn't allow the perfect to get in the way of the good.

If you have a convincing reason to oppose this, I'd like to hear it, so please put it in the comments.


Blogger erin said...

I think that changing the current redistricting method is absolutely essential. That said, I'm concerned about doing it through Prop. 77. There isn't really enough time between November and June (actually, February, when the new districts would have to be decided at the latest) to do this right. Plus, with all the hoopla around the divergent language, I'm worried about how legitimate it can really seem. Why redistrict now, in 2005/2006, when census numbers are already 5 years old. It smacks of DeLay's illegal power grab in Texas. Can't we set up a good system to be in place by 2010?

3:16 PM  

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