Wednesday, August 10, 2005

a doomed reform

Ohioans are trying to change the way that state draws up Congressional districts. Republicans say it's just a bunch of disgruntled Democrats who can't win any state-wide race in Ohio, who want to earn seats thru redistricting. You know, the way the Republicans did in Texas in 2004 with their mid-decade redistricting.

Anyway, the group, Reform Ohio Now, wants to remove politicians from the job of drawing up districts and running elections. Gov. Schwarzenegger wanted to do something similar in California, where Democrats dominate the gerrymandering.

I like the idea very much (but not the idea of mid-census redistricting as done in Texas and proposed in California -- every ten years is enough). It's unfair for Congressional districts to be drawn in bizarre ways where two groups of people who live 40 miles apart might be in the same district connected only by a strip the width of a highway. Gerrymandering is an old and dishonorable tradition, but computers and modern data crunching have made it much more easy to do.

The voters pay. Interest drops because races are all one-sided. We end up with safe districts where the elections are decided by primary voters -- who tend to be more extremist, left and right, contributing to a polarized Congress where Representatives have little need to move to the center or compromise. But it'll be a tough sell, since politicians in a state dominated by one party are unlikely to agree to this sort of reform.