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Uses and abuses of redistricting

Cynthia Brock provided this explanation in response to a question:

The stated purpose of redistricting is to equalize the population of the various Wards, regardless of age or ability to vote.   Under all the various scenarios, the population variance between the largest and smallest wards cannot vary by 10% or more.   However even with these guidelines, thoughtful consideration should be paid to the drawing of district lines so as to reduce electoral distortion.

I would argue that by compressing our politically active, working-class, minority population into one ward, we are witnessing a process called “packing”

“In the past, some states have used redistricting to dilute the vote of minority communities. In some cases, states splintered a single community among many majority-white districts to eliminate minority voting power; in other cases, with larger minority populations, they would pack as many minority voters as possible into one district, to minimize the number of seats that minorities could influence. At times, these tactics have also been used by partisans to boost their chances in certain electoral districts.

The basic techniques used to dilute the voting strength of minority populations are cracking, packing and tacking.

Cracking is the act of dividing communities of like-minded voters into more than one district. With their voting strength diluted, communities are more likely to lose elections.

Packing is the opposite of cracking. The goal is to cram as many like-minded voters into as few districts as possible. While the group is likely to win in the districts into which they are packed, their voting strength is diminished else- where.

Tacking is the process of reaching out from the bulk of a district to grab a distant area populated by voters with desired characteristics. ”

For more information please see

http://brennan.3cdn.net/f7fc5de049787b9de5_4im6bzine.pdf

When district lines are drawn whereby the majority of year-round residents and voters are combined into one district (ward 1&2) and the remaining districts have statistically relevant populations of students who have, with few exceptions, little to no engagement with the voting population (and don’t register to vote), then you inflate the power of residents in student districts and deflate the power of permanent residents in the combined ward.

As for the the purported advantage of 4 wards?  We were originally informed this would save money for the county to run elections.  Data provided this afternoon showed the county would save $4,200 per election. (!!) Another reason was to reduce electoral confusion, and have the county districts and city wards be the same.  In my non-scientific research, I do not know of any city and county with the same electoral lines.  I believe that our voters who get out and vote for city and county reps are involved enough to determine who their representatives are with proper outreach.

For information of where the registered voters are, I should clarify that the number of “2300 more voters” came from a statement made at our last council meeting and is slightly incorrect.  I believe there were 2300 more voters who voted in wards 1&2 in our last election than in the other wards combined.  Council just received a map from the board of elections which shows where our registered voters are located and I will send it on when I get to my computer tomorrow.

 

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