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JLeslie's avatar

How do you think district boundaries should be drawn for representation in the legislature?

Asked by JLeslie (62875points) January 11th, 2022 from iPhone

In the US there is always lots of talk about gerrymandering, I don’t know if that is a problem in other countries too. My state, Florida, USA, is always accused of being very gerrymandered, and I’d have to agree that is a problem here.

My question is, how would you draw the lines so that it’s more fair? As clean as possible in straight lines east to west and north to south with equal amounts of population in each district? Or, would you want rural areas separated from metropolitan areas, so each gets a more accurate representation of the people who live in those different types of places? What are some other ideas?

What states are the least gerrymandered, and how do they go about districting?

Thanks.

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16 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

There are computer algorithms that can define the best fit of boundaries based on a distribution of a population. If run “blind” (i.e. without regard to any other inputs such as percentage of political affiliation, ethnic makeup or income, etc.) then I think this is the most equitable. Let the lines fall where they may if divided using a completely neutral formula.

zenvelo's avatar

The better districts follow established locality boundaries, so that if if 100% of a town’s poulation canf fit in one district it is bttter than piutting half of the town in one district and the other half of the town in another district. That keeps the district aligned with the representation of the localities.

The other factor to avoid is illogical inclusion that ignores physical boundaires. Once in the 1990s, a district in San Francisco reached “across the water” to a portion of Marin county to grab a wealthy neighborhood. The only way to get from one part of the district to the other without going through another district was by boat.

filmfann's avatar

California addressed this a few years ago, utilizing natural boundaries such as rivers, hills, and lakes, and a nonpartisan commission in charge. California no longer has the obviously gerrymandered districts.

JLeslie's avatar

@filmfann Was there a big change in who gets elected after the change?

filmfann's avatar

I think the GOP picked up a couple seats.

seawulf575's avatar

I’d suggest just making it county boundaries, as they are today….not as they could quickly be changed. In the case of NYC (or similar situations) make each Borough equivalent to a county.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 Each Borough in NYC is it’s own county.

I think most states have many many more counties than voting districts, so at minimum some counties would have to be put together.

Kropotkin's avatar

What difference does it make? The US is a kind of polyarchy, run by special interest groups, oligarchs, and corporate lobbyists—that’s who politicians represent, not voters.

Voting is just theatre. Gerrymandering controversy is theatre.

Personally, if I really had to, I’d draw the lines to disenfranchise rural voters as much as possible. Why? Because that’s where most of the ill-informed morons are.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie Or the number of voting districts would have to be expanded. Or use just county boundaries, nothing created just for voting.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 But, for instance, the state only gets so many representatives in the US House of Rep’s so the states have to combine some counties. Florida has 67 counties. I think we have 29 representatives? Not sure.

zenvelo's avatar

Aligning representation based on county lines is as fraught with problems as the current US Senate make up. It makes the low population rural county overweighted compared to a populous urban area.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo The senate has nothing to do with county lines. Or, did you mean the senate is an example of states that get over represented and some underrepresented?

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie I was using it as an example of why assigining one rep per county is a lousy idea. In California that would put Los Angeles County of 10 million people on a par with Plumas County’s 18,660 people.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie Then go the route of combining counties, but keep to the county borders as the boundaries.

gorillapaws's avatar

@seawulf575 “Then go the route of combining counties, but keep to the county borders as the boundaries.”

What would a map of New York look like with equitable distribution of people per county/city? You want our county/city maps to look similar to this? How would that even work with a county the size of the 21’s district? Imagine the school system for an area that large. You’d need something like 12 boroughs to cover NYC’s area.

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