10/19/2004

so this Texas redistricting thing is pissing me off. Tom Delay, House Republican majority leader, who is from Texas, (and has been cited three times in the House for ethics violations already,) has been pushing this plan that changes Texas from having an equal number of Republican and Democrat congressional districts (16 each), to having at least 22 Republican districts and 10 or fewer Democratic districts. Gee, that seems a little odd.

What makes me angry is that the Republicans aren't denying it's purely for their own gain, one Republican official said something like "Texas is a Republican state anyway, and this is just reflecting that" (unfortunately, I can't locate the quote). Another one said "who gives a flip [or possibly fuck, I've seen it both ways] about the People's Republic of Travis County," the county where Austin is located. Well, maybe that guy should, since that's the capital of Texas.

These new districts are shaped completely non-sensically, so it's obvious they are just drawn to dilute Democratic votes and not to make an actual region. For example, Austin, a strongly Democratic area, is divided into thirds. One of these districts snakes from Austin to the Mexican border (see http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/research/redist/pdf/map_plan01374c.pdf, district 25).

Now why should parts of Austin and some border towns three hundred miles away be in the same district? There's a simple answer: They shouldn't. The same thing is done all over the map, in district 10 (which snakes from Austin to Houston), in Dallas and Fort Worth, in San Antonio, and in Houston. Redistricting can and should be simple, with districts being a normal, non-snake-like shape: a few counties that make an solid area, or in the case of districts that are in an urban area, they should be large solid sections, perhaps organized by groups of neighborhoods or suburban towns. Congressman should have an actual constituency, a real region, not a random smattering of voters from wholly unrelated places, put together solely to change the totals in the House of Representatives.

And what makes me especially mad is that you can regulate the size and shape of districts easily and fairly, using geography to compare the perimeter of the district to the size (in square miles) of the district: if the ratio is too large, then it should be redrawn. Another way is by figuring the area of the largest circle that can fit inside the district and the area of largest circle that can fit around it, and comparing the two areas. If there is too much discrepancy, redraw it. I think redistricting should be done solely on population, based on actual regions, maybe even by computer, and there should be no consideration of race, party affiliation, or anything else.

For example, check out my drawing below and see the difference between the circles in example 1 and example 2. I did this in five minutes with the Paint program, imagine what professors with computers could do.



But the whole thing makes me mad, it seems like so often now people do things without caring at all whether what they are doing is right or fair, only if it accomplishes some goal. Any moron can see these districts aren't drawn to better represent the voters in the state and Delay and his cronies don't care, they just wanted more seats as quickly as possible. That's not how government, or anything else, should be run.

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