End Gerrymandering: The person that gets the most votes should be elected.
Sat, Aug 24, 2019
Here's a concept that shouldn't be so outlandish: The person that got the most votes should be elected.
But today, we're not talking about the White House – we're diving into a problem plaguing statehouses across America.
2018 was an indisputably incredible year. In our state legislatures, we flipped over four hundred seats from red to blue and helped thousands of other Democrats win their elections. But it could have been an even better year – had it not been for Republican antics years prior.
How we got here
Flashback to 2010: Republicans ran on an anti-Obama wave and bashed the now-popular Affordable Care Act. The GOP not only flipped the House of Representatives, but flipped state Houses around the country.
But this election was different than the ones before. By securing majorities in 2010, Republicans put themselves squarely in the seat for redistricting. And thus began REDMAP.
REDMAP, known as the Redistricting Majority Project, was the GOP's master plan to draw themselves into power. In a majority of states, state legislators are the ones redrawing the district boundaries every ten years. As such, the GOP cracked and packed districts, making it easier for their Republican legislators to win elections. In turn that meant Democrats had to work harder to get fewer seats.
The effects of gerrymandered mapsIn Wisconsin, Scott Walker and his band of Republican allies were in charge of drawing the map in 2010 – and they fundamentally changed the state. They worked assiduously to push Democratic voters into small enclaves, making each vote matter less and less.
And that's exactly what happened this election. Just last November, Democrats received 53% of the vote – an outright majority! But how many seats did Democrats get? A mere 36 seats – of the 99 in the General Assembly.
This trend isn't isolated – take a look at North Carolina. The Tar Heel state voted 51% for Democrats in November. How did Republicans (who only received 48% of the vote) keep 54% of their seats?
Finally, Michigan made it three for three. A majority of Michiganders cast their ballot for the Democratic candidate, but just like clockwork, Republicans got 53% of the legislative seats.
While some states were able to overcome these shady Republican tactics, other states – like Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan – became reliably red at the state legislative level.
The final nailThe final nail in the coffin came earlier this year, when the Supreme Court abdicated their duty to protect our democracy.
This past session, the nine justices were presented with Rucho v. Common Cause (2019). The case discussed extreme partisan gerrymandering and its detrimental harm on our democracy.
In a stunning 5-4 decision, the conservative Supreme Court called open season on our democracy. By allowing partisan gerrymandering, the highest court in the country kicked the can and greenlit future map-rigging.
Where we go from hereWe face the same dilemma this election.
With redistricting just around the corner, the legislators we elect now will be the ones redrawing the districts after the upcoming Census.
The only option left at our disposal is winning back the states. No matter how you slice it, this will be an uphill climb. Republicans will not rest unless they hold onto their power – they've proven that they'll stop at nothing, from outrageous and unfounded recalls to the stacks of cash they're sending in to prop up their candidates.
But if we want to create a fairer world for the next generation, then this is a fight we have to take on now. One seat and one state at a time, starting with upcoming races in Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Mississippi just weeks away.
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