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Michigan Gerrymandering: What really is it?

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Gerrymandering is defined as manipulating the boundaries, so as to favor one party or class. In the case of Gill vs Whitford, Wisconsin elected a majority in the state and senate that was Republican. They also elected a Republican governor which caused them to have majority during voting situations. A redistricting plan was introduced and there was a lot of controversies, “A federal court upheld the plan as not violating the “one person one vote” principle nor violating the Equal Protection Clause.” The people involved in the case Beverly R. Gill and William Whitford participated at the federal district court, “[the] issue is whether the plan systematically dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide.”

 

According to “efficiency gap” methodology, the Michigan Senate has been the most imbalanced of all legislative bodies in Michigan. In 2014, Republicans won 27 seats compared to 11 seats for Democrats. The GOP usually wins their races by tighter margins, while the Dems capture safe seats in blowouts. In 2016, Michigan Democrats won more overall votes for state House than Republicans did. It was by a tiny gap — half of one percentage point. Democrats lost really bad in the race that really counts, as the GOP got 63 of 110 seats. Political observers say “the efficiency gap” explains why Republicans from Michigan continue to have such a high average in recent state and congressional elections, even though state voters typically cast overall ballots for both parties in a somewhat equal measure. It’s a new way to calculate the old political art of gerrymandering. The “efficiency gap” shows how many votes are “wasted” when districts are drawn to “pack” one party’s voters into as little seats as possible and “crack” them by spreading supporters into multiple districts and diluting their power. A former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer is preparing for a federal lawsuit to challenge the state’s districts. Political districts are redrawn every 10 years after the state census to makeup for population changes and confirm districts have around the same number of voters.

The Supreme Justices suggested interest in partisan symmetry, the idea that a plan should treat the major parties symmetrically in terms of the conversion of votes to seats, and suggested that it could be shaped into a legal test as a solution to gerrymandering in 2014. A more recent possible solution is allowing the majority party to draw the maps fro districts and the minority chooses the districts they want. The solution promotes more equal ways for partisan balance instead of the majority tipping scales to be completely in their favor. Although this attempt may not work since the majority could draw neat symmetrical shapes which could still fall in their favor or draw oddly shaped districts in attempts to maximize proportional representation within the maps. There is currently not a clear solution to gerrymandering, but there are attempts to reform it.

Partisan gerrymandering is a problematic process by which officials draw legislative boundaries to help their fellow partisans. This forges the following questions – Would politically neutral redistricting in itself yield significantly more competitive and less polarized politics and would it ensure greater political diversity and increase the legitimacy of Congress? Regardless of how the map is drawn the vast majority of Americans will live in areas of mostly Republican or mostly Democratic by overwhelming margins. In the biggest metro areas and in the heartland, moderates, conservatives and liberals may be locked out of representation due to the absence of their voices. Legislative compromises become necessary for passing bills but it is sometimes impossible because of the intensified polarization in Congress. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D.VA) centers on two key changes: to elect House members with ranked choice voting in primary and general elections and to establish congressional districts with multiple representatives. Candidates would be forced to be able to reflect a larger mix of views. Voters including third party and independent candidates would have real choices. Congress would regain legitimacy because of more representation and functionality.

The mathematical solutions for gerrymandering are very confusing. In the Wisconsin Assembly elections of 2008 it’s shows the democrats have taken over in percentage of votes which is at 56 percent and that is compared to the republicans at 44 percent. However the assembly seats also lists the democrats at 52 compared to a republican 46. But then in 2012 the percentage of democratic votes went to 53 percent democratic and 47 percent republican. However, in assembly seats there was a significant change from 2008 to 2012. The democrats held 39 seats of the house and 60 of those seats are held by republicans. The change gets more significant in the most recent assembly election where 47 percent of the votes belonged to democrats and 53 percent of the votes belong to the republicans. Finally, in assembly seating 35 of the seats were reserved for democrats by a huge margin, there are 64 of the seats taken by republicans. This just shows the major swing in one state where it could be happening all across the country. In the New York Times article it states “In the next election, in November 2012, Republicans won only 47 percent of the vote but 60 of 99 seats in the Assembly. In the midterm year of 2014, they won 57 percent of the Assembly vote and 63 seats, and in 2016, they won about 53 percent of the Assembly vote and 64 seats. Wisconsin is a purple state: Barack Obama won it twice, and Donald Trump barely carried it, by 22,000 votes. This significant swing isn’t something to be shoved aside and there is no exclamation for why this is occurred. The republicans were trying very hard to keep the mapmaking they were doing a secret but they were very unsuccessful. More and more votes are swayed nowadays because of policies and changes in the US.

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Michigan Gerrymandering: What really is it?