Every ten years, according to the mandate of the Constitution, the US government conducts a nationwide census, to learn how many people live in each district, in each state, to ensure that membership in the House of Representatives is evenly distributed. And immediately after the census figures are released, all 50 states begin redrawing Congressional districts, according not only to population, but to the registered political preferences and demographic indicators of the populations in question.
The result is what is called “gerrymandering”—the convoluted bending of House districts to ensure that most of them lean decidedly toward the Democratic or the Republican party. The difference is whether one party or the other is in charge. We need to amend that Constitution of the United States to ban partisan redistricting, which is one of the st flagrantly corrupting practices in our democracy.
We, the People of the United States, do not have a material interest in allowing partisans on either side to hijack a constitutional process in order to serve their party’s interest in making it easier for them to choose the outcome of elections. Yet, throughout our history, we have tolerated this egregious abuse of power, because too many of us favor using such unjust means to make life harder for the party we disagree with.
The proposed amendment could do any one of the following:
- Ban partisan manipulation of Congressional district boundaries, including any effort to consider voting trends, demographic statistics (aside from total population) or party mailing lists.
- Require that official committees consisting of no more than 1/3 Democrats, 1/3 Republicans, and 1/3 non-aligned voters, supervise the entire process of redrawing boundaries and make official findings on the legitimacy of any proposal.
- Establish clear rules for what constitutes a legitimate way to assign and distribute specific geographical boundaries to populations across a given state.
There are other steps that need to be taken, as well. For instance: a campaign to inform all affected communities every time a redistricting measure is in the planning or under consideration; the suspension of redistricting until a Constitutional amendment can be considered; provisions that put control of the process out of the hands of political appointees, their benefactors and/or rival partisans.
– – –
Originally published March 22, 2011, at IndependentsOfPrinciple.com