The Tale of Two Congressional Districts

(Photo Credit: Washington Post)

An illicit tale of two congressional districts that could never be and the gerrymanders who loved them!

 

 

In the most clinical of definitions, redistricting is the process of drawing boundaries for electoral districts. Oddly, such a mundane definition doesn’t do the word justice. Because for those that actually hold the power of redistricting also directly shape the future of both local and national elections for that state. That reason alone makes redistricting more of an art than a science.

 

For the 34 states that allow their state legislatures every ten years to redistrict, it’s a tricky proposition. If done “correctly”, the controlling party in the state legislature can get favorable borders that can help them when election time comes around. If you go too far with this however, it can be gerrymandering – which is technically illegal – and you get what happened in Florida.

 

In early July, a Florida Circuit Court Judge voided a section of Florida’s congressional map citing that Republicans in the state had, “made a mockery of the Legislature’s transparent and open process of redistricting.” The two congressional districts that are being put into question are District 5, represented by Democrat Corrine Brown, and District 10, being represented by Republican Dan Webster. The judge concluded that either both districts need to be redrawn by August 10th or this year’s elections could be pushed back until the state can create compliant districts.

 

While the idea of redrawing two congressional districts doesn’t seem THAT big of a task, you forget that redrawing these districts would also mean redrawing the state’s 25 others that surround the contested area. Even if there are alternative congressional maps – my guess that there are – this still wastes an inordinate amount of time for everyone involved.

 

Yet this sets up the question that has been asked for years by basically everyone who follows politics, why would you hand lawmakers the power to redistrict in the first place?

 

makes no sense

 

Sadly this isn’t the first time that politicians have done this. Back in 2000, California went through a similar problem in which some many of their congressional districts were “oddly constructed” by those in power. It wasn’t until the state handed the redistricting power over to an independent commission that the problem was finally fixed. But this problem isn’t just in a few states. It’s an epidemic among the 34 states that allow state legislatures to redraw congressional lines.

 

The temptation for politicians to redistrict in their favor is too great. The process is definitely disturbing because it not only undermines the notion of a representative government, but disenfranchises those who have faith in democracy as a whole. Yet as long as lawmakers are allowed to redistrict, what happened in Florida will continue to be the norm.

 

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