Update: How Maps Helped Republicans Keep an Edge in the House published in The New York Times Friday has a graphic that shows how Republcans in North Carolina packing Democrats into fewer districts and gained three seats as a result.
When the Democrats had the majority, they also gerrymandered districts:
The screenshot on the right shows how many more votes are needed in each state to elect a Democrat to Congress as opposed to a Republican.
As Republicans take control of the states, they can continue to gerrymander and win elections with little concern for the popular vote. They can obviate the demographic problems that cost them the election of 2012 and continue to rely on their traditional base of white men.
The Republican control of these five states bodes ill for not only for Democrats, but for all Americans. Only last week in Michigan, a state with historically powerful labor unions, the Republican majority proposed, voted on and passed a bill that curtails labor union rights. The law came into being overnight, with no discussion and no warning. When something like this happens, the minority party is essentially shut out of the legislative process, and the majority can pretty much do whatever it pleases.
The most insidious effect stemming from gerrymandering that gives one party control for at least a decade is the ability to change election rules.
Suppose, mused Maddow, that national elections were decided by the same gerrymandered districts that always elect Republican majorities. That scenario is not so far-fetched as you might believe. Republicans in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania have proposed to do just that. And with Republican majorities in both state houses and a Republican governor, continued Maddow, they have the power to do it. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report has calculated that if all the states had used that system in the 2012 election, Romney would now be the president-elect, 276-262.
I’ve been using Republicans as examples because they gained control when they swept the 2010 election. But it’s important to note that both parties are guilty of gerrymandering.
Attorney General Eric Holder is advocating several reforms to the electoral process, including registration, voter ID and other laws that effectively keep voters from the polls. Speaking on December 11, he said
In addition, we should consider reforms to the redistricting process for state and federal offices so districts are drawn in a way that’s neutral, that promote fair and effective representation for all, and that can’t be abused to protect incumbents and undercut electoral competition.
The election rules have to be changed. Voters have to become aware of the danger and shout their objections as loudly as they can.
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