Can you expound a little bit on how the US 'election' districts are chosen?
follow this thread from the original, at:
Towards a nonpartisan Oregon legislature [sponsored by Senator Charlie Ringo [Democrat] http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/01/278421.shtml
or post to the below thread about it.
BELOW: information about where you as the Oregon citizen have public access and input into redistricting, and suggestions what to do about it. The following information reveals the actual secret of how the American corporate state is maintained: through gerrymandered districts, lots of them. Empirical data either from Toward a Bioregional State website or from the non-profit thinktank The Center for Voting and Democracy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.
what you can do for Oregon access:
In Oregon, Public Access
Statewide public hearings are required. The public may propose plans of their own or present testimony. Also, public terminals are available in the "committee services" office at the capital for the public to use in drawing their own proposed maps. The legislature had a page on redistricting; but since it failed to make plans by July 1, the Secretary of State now has a redistricting site with a schedule of hearings, a draft plan, and an area for citizens to make comments.
Toward a Bioregional State:
Bioregional Letter #4
Bioregionally Sensitive Congressional Districts,
that are Party-Competitive, as well as an Ecological Feedback to the State
Making Bioregionally Sensitive Congressional Districts,
that would be more competitive for all parties, instead of the 'pocketed'
clientelistic districts that the majoritarian parties have created for themselves alone
This letter discusses the importance of making the bailiwicks of United States elections geographic, because presently incumbency is over 90% in the Congress, voter turnouts are 50% or less--even some are unchallenged 'returns' to the federal congress (over 60 elections in 2000 to the congress were unchallenged, where no one ran against these 'representatives.' They basically 'inherited' their positions. How can they be representative unless there are competitive elections?). How can this be?--with a majority of the public concerned about environmental and health issues?
Write it up to the gakekeeping of the elections process and formal framework of the majoritarian parties, where getting elected is less something to do with representing, it is all about assuring uncompetitive districts, and making themselves for a particular area the only route to the state. This fourth bioregional letter explains how we can remove these ungeographic bailiwicks and set up a meaningful bioregionalist politics: by (1) removing the gerrymandered, uncompetitive, districts that the majoritarian parties have set up on the ground which keep them from competiting for the vote, and keep the voters reliant upon them instead, and (2) setting up districts to be ecological feedback against environmental degradation of particular areas. Changing the geography of the districts in states and for federal elections would make all parties more competitive and thus more representative, by removing the 'pocketing' of our votes by these uncompetive parties. Allowing third/fourth parties to enter politics is a structural district change requirement.
. . .
Toward a Bioregional State
Mapping our Future:
A Public Interest Guide to Redistricting
Information on redistricting in all 50 states is available by clicking on the state to the left. We have compiled important media coverage of national redistricting issues. For monthly updates on what's happening in redistricting nationwide, see What's New.
Mapping our Future is a state-by-state guide, from August 2000, to the details of redistricting at that time. It contains information on the statutes governing redistricting, litigation in the previous decade, any reform efforts and legislation on redistricting and an analysis of the political landscape in each state. The report now includes information about how redistricting has proceeded in each state, including a wide array of newspaper articles.
More information is also available in the voting rights section of the site.
George Mason University professor Michael McDonald reviews means to enhance competitiveness in redistricting . Election law attorney Edward Still regularly updates his website with redistricting media coverage.
Do you have information about redistricting in your state that you think we should include? Please send your redistricting tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we welcome your input, comments, and suggestions.
How Redistricting Protected Incumbents in 2001-2002 [or how well can you predict election outcomes on one variable--who designed the district? Who designed the district is an astounding perfect fit for predicting than the amount of money spent on an election. ]
Elections to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 were dramatically less competitive than elections after the last round of redistricting in 1991-1992. By forcing most incumbents to run in districts that have new voters or perhaps against another incumbent, redistricting typically results in the two elections immediately following redistricting (such as 1992 and 1994) being the most competitive elections of a given decade. [AT LEAST THAT IS HOW IT USED TO BE. . .IT HAS INVERTED IN THE PAST 20 YEARS.]
But by many measures, the 2002 U.S. House elections were the least competitive elections since 1988, which makes it quite possible that House elections toward the end of the decade will likely be far less competitive than any in history. In 2002 only four incumbents lost to non-incumbent election challengers -- the fewest in history. More than 80% of seats were won by landslide, and the average victory margin was nearly 40%, which is a 70% to 30% blowout. The overview of our 2003 Dubious Democracy report has additional data quantifying this alarming state of affairs.
Some might ask whether 2002 was a "stay the course" year (as indeed was the case in 1988, when that very phrase was the mantra of George Bush in his successful presidential bid).
But voters showed great restlessness in other elections. [SHOWN IN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUGE GOVERNOR SWITCHES VS. LITTLE IF ANY LEGISLATIVE SWITCHES. THE DIFFERENCE? THE DISTRICTS.]
For example, half of the 36 gubernatorial races in 2002 [WITH A GOVERNORS DISTRICT BEING STATE-WIDE AND THUS 'UNGERRYMANDERABLE'] resulted in a party change. Of 70 statewide races for governor and U.S. Senate, the winner had 55% or more of the vote in fewer than half 47%), and only 24% of these races were won by 60% or more. In contrast, the winner had 55% or more of the vote in 91% (396) of the 435 U.S. House races, and ****fully 81% of House races were won by 60% or more.****
The Center has quantified just exactly how state lawmakers in most cases sought to protect incumbents of both parties.
Of incumbents who had close relatively close races in 2000, more than three out of four in 2002 ran in a district that was drawn to be more favorable for their party [MORE THAN THREE OUT OF FOUR]
Among all the races with incumbents, 20 districts were moved from being competitive/swing districts to generally safe districts for one party
In California and Texas, there were 14 districts in 2000 that were very competitive, with a partisanship measure of 47% to 53%. Using that same measure, there are only two such districts in 2002 [CALIFORNIA GERRYMANDERING OF DISTRICTS REDUCED PARTY COMPETITIVE DISTRICTS FROM 14 TO 2.]
In this short report, we address two questions:
1. What was the effect of redistricting [I.E, GERRYMANDERING] for the incumbents who had the most competitive U.S. House races in 2000?
2. How did the distribution of safe and competitive seats in 2000 compare with the distribution after the 2001-2 redistricting? [WERE THERE MORE COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS AFTER GERRYMANDERING OR LESS?]
Question One - Incumbents in Close Races in 2000
To answer the first question, we looked at the 59 House races in which the 2000 winner had less than 55%. [in other words, the 'competitive' group of districts.] We then excluded three categories of races 1) states with only 1 district and Maine, since redistricting did not occur in those states; 2) districts in which the incumbent is not running for re?election (we will note that some of those retirements were induced by redistricting); and 3) districts that in October 2002 lacked 2002 partisanship data (the 60 districts in the following states: Alabama, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina). Those exceptions left 46 incumbents running for re-election in new districts in 2002 who had received less than 55% of the vote in 2000.
Of those 46 incumbents, 37 of them had their districts made safer [by gerrymandering] in that the district was redrawn so that the presidential candidate of their party won a higher percentage of the vote in their district; only nine districts were made less safe for these incumbent. Here is the breakdown of number of seats by party:
Safer Less Safe Total
Democrat 17 6 23
Republican 20 3 23
Total 37 9 46
The nine incumbents whose districts became less safe are listed here. Note that hardly any had to run in significantly worse districts - meaning ones where the district was tilted more than a tilt of 1.5% in the direction of the other party. The two exceptions were Republican Connie Morella and Democrat Bill Luther - and they were two of the four incumbents to lose to non-incumbent challengers in 2003.
NOTE THE CONTEXTS THAT MAKE ELECTIONS MORE COMPETITIVE.
Note also that Washington state and Minnesota account for five of the nine incumbents made less safe; Washington uses a redistricting commission, and Minnesota was impacted by independent candidates ****Jesse Ventura's opposition to incumbent protection in redistricting.****
Arkansas-4 Mike Ross (1.1% more Republican)
Minnesota-2 Bill Luther (2.3% more Republican - running in new CD #) Minnesota-4 Betty McCollum (0.4% more Republican)
Texas-11 Chet Edwards (1.2% more Republican)
Wash.-1 Jay Inslee (0.8% more Democratic)
Wash.-2 Rick Larsen (0.4% more Democratic)
Indiana-8 John Hostettler (0.7% more Democratic)
Maryland-8 Connie Morella (5.0% more Democratic)
Minnesota-6 Mark Kennedy (1.4% more Democratic - running in new CD# )
GERRYMANDERING PROTECTS INCUMBENTS, REMOVES PARTY COMPETITION
CASE EXAMPLE: FLORIDA, HOME BASE OF THE BUSH REICH
In contrast to very limited damage done to threatened incumbents, there are numerous examples of pronounced moves to protect threatened incumbents. For example, Florida Republicans Clay Shaw and Ric Keller were the only candidates to win by close margins in Florida in 2000. Their districts were made on average 5% more Republican (meaning a margin swing of 10%) in the Republican-drawn plan. They both won easily in 2002.
In a further sign of partisanship in Florida, the five clearly safe Florida Democratic incumbents had their districts made even safer, but the two Democratic incumbents in potentially competitive seats had their districts made on average 4% more Republican - one of these incumbents, Karen Thurman, was one of the four incumbents to lose to a non-incumbent challenger.
Question 2 - Redistricting and number of competitive districts
To answer the second question, we looked at all the races in which a 2000 incumbent is running for re?election and excluded the states with one district and Maine (which has not yet redistricted) and states for which in October 2002 we lacked partisanship data. We then classified each district as likely to be competitive or not in open seats based on whether the district partisanship (as measured by the relative vote in the presidential race) was between 45% to 55% or outside that range.
Out of 323 incumbents meeting our criteria above, we found that a total of 20 fewer incumbents (from 132 down to 112) now represent districts that are in our competitive range. The number of seats in each category is as follows:
2000 TO 2002: GERRYMANDERING MAKES DISTRICTS 'SAFER' AND LESS COMPETITIVE
............GOP Incumb. Dem. Incumbents. Total Incumb. Year
...........Safe Competitive Safe Competitive Safe Competitive
2000 87 74 104 58 191 132
2002 99 62 112 50 211 112
CALIFORNIA AND FLORIDA: 2 DISTRICTS OUT OF 85 TOTAL, LEFT COMPETITIVE
ONLY ONE COMPETITIVE LEGISLATIVE ELECTION IN EACH STATE
Going a bit farther in this approach to incumbent protection, we looked at two states that have been highlighted as ones with incumbent-protection plans: California and Texas.
In those two states, there were 14 districts [ONLY A FEW] (5 out of 30 in Texas, 9 out of 52 in California) in the 2000 election that we would categorize as very competitive -- partisanship measures of 47% to 53% [i.e., 'competitive' between Democrat and Republican, regardless that they represent the same corporate state polity biased against the citizen and against the consumer].
In the current districts, however, there are now only 2 out of 85 -- one in each state. No incumbents were defeated in those two states in 2002, and only four of those state's 82 seats were decided by margins of less than 10%.
California is particularly pronounced in its gerrymander.
In 2000, for example our model of making projections outlined in Monopoly Politics 2002 did not make projections in [ONLY] nine of the state's 52 House races. [2000: THEY PREDICTED 41 OF 52 CALIFORNIA 'ELECTIONS' BASED ON ONLY ONE VARIABLE: WHO DESIGNED THE DISTRICT, ALONE.]
In 2002, the model makes projections in fully 52 of 53 races -- only not making a projection in the race to fill former Congressman Gary Condit's seat, which does have a clear lean toward Democrats that led to a relatively comfortable Democratic win. On average, the six Democratic incumbents who had been in competitive districts had their district made 4.8% more Democratic, while the nine Republican incumbents in competitive districts had their district made on average 3.5% more Republican. [IN 2002: THEY PREDICTED 52 OF 53 CALIFORNIA 'ELECTIONS' BASED ON ONLY ONE VARIABLE: WHO DESIGNED THE DISTRICT, ALONE.]
As a result, our model now projects 52 of the 53 current incumbents in California as comfortable winners going into 2004 - meaning projected to win by at least 10%. Note that these incumbents really are safe, at least for 2004 and their seats are likely safe for their party ***for the entire decade*** unless more seats become open. Our model projected 1,091 winners by at least 10% in 1996-2002; none of those projected winners lost, and only 21(less than 2%) didn't win by at least a 10% margin. [1996-2002: THEY HAD 100% ACCURACY IN THEIR PREDICTIONS, BASED ON ONLY ONE VARIABLE: WHO DESIGNED THE DISTRICT, ALONE.]
You'll love (to hate) this book's information, particuarly Part One, "Geography is Destiny":
Fixing Elections: The Failure of America's Winner Take All Politics by Steven Hill [founder of Center for Voting and Democracy]
Overview: Dubious Democracy 2003-2004
Generally, the first year after redistricting results in the most competitive House elections of the decade. After the most recent redistricting, there were fewer competitive races than in the least competitive year of the decade from 1992-2000.
This problem -- a lack of competitive elections -- is only going to get worse from 2004 to 2010.
In 2002, over 80% of US House races were won by landslide margins of at least 20%. Fewer than one in ten races were by less than a 10% margin. This year's elections were the least competitive races since 1988.
The first year after redistricting is generally the most competitive year of the decade. For example, in 1992 there were 84 competitive races, and 61% of the races were won by landslides. As incumbents settle into their districts throughout the course of the decade, elections generally become less competitive. In 2000, there were only 42 competitive races, half as many as in 1992, and 77% were won by landslide margins of at least 20%.
This has a chilling implication for the decade ahead of us:
It's likely that the most competitive year of 2002-2010 will be less competitive than the least competitive year of 1992-2000.
If you're dismayed that growing numbers of eligible Americans are choosing not to vote, you may not want to continue reading, because it's only going to get worse unless we start making fundamental changes in the way we hold elections and elect our representatives.
Over 90% of Americans live in congressional districts that are essentially one-party monopolies. This means that most voters are faced with unappealing choices: ratify the incumbent party, waste their vote on a candidate who is sure to lose, or sit out the race. Not surprisingly, increasing numbers of American are opting for the latter option.
So much for a healthy two-party system, where issues ignored by one major party can be meaningfully addressed by the other one [if you believe that of course. Only third/fourth parties however can keep first/second parties checked and balanced. IF there are only two parties, they are unable to 'check and balance' each other, because they lead to a cooperating duopoly.]. And if you'd like to hear about the policy ideas of independent and third party candidates, you're even more out of luck.
Instead, we've got to face a very troubling electoral landscape:
The average victory margin in U.S. House races was 39% -- meaning winners on average won more than 69% of votes cast in their race. Only 38, fewer than one in ten races, were won by competitive margins of less than 10%.
The landslide index increased to 81%, meaning more than four out of five races were won by more than 20%. Since 1960, only one year, 1988, had a higher landslide index.
Only 4 out of 386 incumbents lost to facing non-incumbent challengers. That's the highest re-election rates since 1954 (and possibly earlier), at a time when public opinion of the Congress is not very flattering.
Nearly three out of five seats (254) are held by incumbents who have won their last two elections by "landslide" margins of least 20% (earning our "untouchable" tag).
Less than 39% of eligible Americans cast a vote in 2000; only one in four adults voted for the U.S. House member who represents them. [read that once more. This is nothing to do with democracy. This is a corporate gerrymandered state.]
COMPARING 1992 to 2000
1992: Republican candidates for the House in 1992 won 45% of votes around the country, but only 41% of seats.
2000: In 2000, they won 48% of votes, but 51% of seats. Such swings and distortions are often magnified in particular states.
STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM: START BLAMING THE COLLUSIVELY CRIMINAL DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES THAT ARE STEALING ALL ELECTIONS THROUGH GERRYMANDERING]
It's time to stop blaming the victims of the American electoral system - the voters - and start addressing the root causes of feelings of alienation and lack of representation.
The Center for Voting and Democracy advocates for full representation, instant runoff voting and public interest redistricting methods to improve representation and accountability, increase competition, enhance debate of issues and ultimately improve public policy and national unity.
Read the rest of the Dubious Democracy 2003 report for disturbing information about the state of our democracy.
LEARN HOW IT IS DONE WITH THIS COMPUTER GAME:
Try your hand at Redistricting Roulette!
In 2001-2002, nearly every political jurisdiction in the nation will adjust its legislative district lines based on new information provided by the U.S. Census. Political insiders know that the way legislative lines are drawn has a major impact on who wins and who loses. Unfortunately, the public often is not aware of this impact and typically plays little role in redistricting.
In Redistricting Roulette, imagine a town - let's call it Geometry Town -- of 125 voters, with 65 "circle" voters and 60 "square" voters. (You can think of circles as Republicans and squares as Democrats, if that makes it easier. Yes, voters cannot be so easily pegged in real life, but redistricting experts know that voters often are more predictable than many assume.)
In a race for the mayor of Geometry Town, the candidate backed by the circles would most likely win. But what about in the elections for the five seats on the city council? If they were elected in a winner-take-all, "at-large" election -- with every voter having five votes and able to give only one vote to a given candidate -- then circle candidates might still elect all the seats.
Such winner-take-all results are one reason why many legislators instead represent "one-seat" districts. In the case of Geometry Town, the five council members would represent five different parts of the town. Given the breakdown of 65 circle votes and 60 square voters, one might expect a districting plan to produce three districts with a majority of circle voters and two with a majority of square voters. But a spin of the gerrymandering wheel can result in dramatically different results. The moral of the story? Don't let redistricting be left to chance in your town, your county and your state!
Try your hand at Redistricting Roulette (requires Internet Explorer 4.x or Netscape 3.x and above). Read the instructions in the opening box, then move on to see how the drawing of the lines can manipulate the outcome of the election -- the voters don't move, but the winners change with the changing of the district lines. To explore the impact of five alternative districting plans, move your mouse over one of the five buttons and see which side comes out the winner and the loser. To see the break down of which side wins in each plan, click on the button.
(To have a copy of Redistricting Roulette on your home computer, you can download Redistricting Roulette. After downloading, put the file into a folder of your choice and then double-click the file. Wheel.exe will self extract to c:\wheel and then you can run index.html from the browser on your computer.)
Every 10 years, elected officials in nearly every political jurisdiction in the nation carve up the political landscape into new legislative districts. Some cities and states have procedures to promote public interest in this redistricting process, but most do little to prevent the creation of a hodgepodge of gerrymandered districts. With increasingly sophisticated computer software, polling results and demographic data, incumbent legislators quite literally choose the voters before the voters have a chance to choose them. As a result of the redistricting process, most voters are locked into one-party districts where their only real choice at election time is to ratify the incumbent or heir apparent of the party controlling that district.
The Center for Voting and Democracy seeks to inform the public about redistricting -- both as it happens now and how it could be done differently. The current round of redistricting was triggered by the 2000 census. The major parties have been busily plotting new plans for years. It is essential that the public be involved in this process. There are reform options to consider, ranging from the moderate to the profound:
- Make the redistricting process a very public one , with full news media coverage and citizen input.
- Take the redistricting process out of the hands of the incumbents and their parties by either instituting clear criteria that mapmakers must follow or by establishing independent, nonpartisan commissions. Iowa and Arizona use such approaches. [or, as I suggest, kill another bird with this stone and provide feedback from tangible environmental risk areas of particular peoples--using watershed districts which are 'ungerrymanderable' and independent districts.]
- Convert the U.S.-style "winner-take-all" voting system to a proportional representation system or semi-proportional voting system. Proportional voting systems are used by most of the world's established democracies and make it much more difficult to gerrymander elections. A semi-proportional system like cumulative voting could be used to in three-seat legislative districts. [FOR 110 YEARS] From 1870 to 1980, Illinois used cumulative voting in three-seat districts to elect its lower house, and most observers believe it had a profoundly positive impact on the state's politics. One result was that nearly every district had two-party representation, giving voters more choice, better representation, and creating more competition. [personally, these choices fail on the "100%" test: they fail to force parties to appeal to all voters, and fail to lead parties to attempt to represent widest amount of people. In my opinion only 'proportional representation with a majoritarian allotment' (see Toward a Bioregional State website) fulfils this concern.]
Mapping Our Future, our state-by-state redistricting guide, gives voters timely information about how redistricting will occur in each state, how citizens can influence the process and how the process can be improved.
Below are additional articles and web links that provide information about different approaches to redistricting and why it is so important for the public to be involved in the process.
Monopoly Politics 2002:
How "No Choice" Elections Rule in a Competitive House
A Center for Voting and Democracy Report
Report released September 30, 2002
Results reported November 8, 2002
2004 Projections posted November 8, 2002
CVD's model of projecting House winners based only on past federal election results and the senior of incumbents had a 99.9% accuracy over the past 3 elections. Out of more than 900 projections over the last 3 elections cycles based, the model made only one incorrect projection. We have applied the model to the 2002 elections and report our findings in a detailed report. Using data available as as November 6, we report on the accuracy of our projections.
Great effort went into gathering the data used in this report. Because the Center believes this information should be readily available to the public, we are releasing all of the data and the precise methodology used. We hope that members of the public will make use of the data and the model and experiment with adjusting variables and assumptions to gain a better understanding of how US House elections function.
Full Report: Monopoly Politics 2002: How "No Choice" Elections Rule in a Competitive House
Data and Model: This link contains spreadsheets for making prjoections for House races for any year from 1996-2000 as well as 2002, all of the data used in these projections, and detailed explanations of the model and all of its variables.
100% accuracy of 2002 projections and 2004 projections in more than 350 races are already available. (November 8)
The September 30 press conference was broadcast live on CSPAN-1 and re-aired four times. It can be viewed at cspan.rm. You can also view the press conference on CSPAN's Politics page by searching for the September 30 listing "The Race for the U.S. House: Past, Present & Future."
what you can do for Oregon access:
In Oregon, Public Access
Statewide public hearings are required. The public may propose plans of their own or present testimony. Also, public terminals are available in the "committee services" office at the capital for the public to use in drawing their own proposed maps.The legislature had a page on redistricting; but since it failed to make plans by July 1, the Secretary of State now has a redistricting site with a schedule of hearings, a draft plan, and an area for citizens to make comments.
Communities of Interest - Respecting the integrity of neighborhoods and groups of people that traditionally have associated with one another by not splitting them into different districts when redrawing districts
Compactness - The degree to which a district full covers an area; more technically, it is the ratio of length to width as measured from the "center" of a district
Contiguity - Requirement that a district be all in one piece; in other words, a person should be able to travel through all parts of a district without needing to cross through another district. In some jurisdictions, a district in which two of its parts meet only at the corners is not considered contiguous. In others, districts actually can intersect at a point in space where, theoretically, one does not need to step into the neighboring district to continue on in the original district.
Constituent - Citizens residing in a particular candidate's area or district.
District Cores - Seeking to preserve existing districts as much as possible when drawing new districts.
Gingles Test - Criteria governing lawsuits brought under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as spelled out by the Supreme Court in Thornburgh v. Gingles. The three criteria are (1) Is the racial minority group sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district in the jurisdiction? (2) Is the minority group politically cohesive? (3) Does the majority community vote as a bloc to defeat the minority's preferred candidate?
Incumbents - An elected official already serving in office. In redistricting terms, it refers to whether it is admissible to openly see to enhance the electoral opportunities of an incumbent - meaning seek to protect them from competition
Minority Vote Dilution - Any practice that can be legally deemed as weakening the voting strength of racial minorities protected by the Voting Rights Act.
Multi-Seat Election - More than one candidate is elected from a particular area.
Political Subdivision - Requirement to maintain political jurisdiction lines intact, such as county lines
Population Equality - Requirement that districts conform to the "one person, one vote" principle, which requires states to justify even slight variations of population between districts. Typically the "ideal" population size for a single-member district is determined by dividing the total population by the number of districts to be drawn. Districts that have more or fewer people are said to deviate from this ideal.
Proportional Representation - Proportional representation (PR) describes a range of voting systems used in most established democracies. The principle of PR is that parties or like-minded groupings of individuals should win seats in legislative assemblies in proportion to their share of the popular vote; to provide for these results, various voting methods are used in multi-seat districts.
Racially Polarized Voting - A consistent relationship between the race of the voter and candidate whereby race is the determinant factor in how voters vote - typically understood as "whites vote for whites, blacks vote for blacks," but more broadly meaning nearly all white voters and nearly all black voters typically support different candidates.
Shaw v. Reno - 1993 ruling by Supreme Court that found that districts can be unconstitutional "racial gerrymanders" if clearly drawn for the overriding purpose of pooling racial minorities into a single district; racial gerrymandering historically had meant the drawing of districts by the white majority to prevent racial minorities from opportunities to elect seats .
Single-Member District - A specific boundary of an area where only one individual is elected to represent everyone in that area in a particularly legislative assembly
Voting Rights Act - 1965 federal law ensuring equal opportunity and fairness in the voting process. Section 2 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act are of particular importance. Section 2 prohibits minority vote dilution due to laws or practices that weaken the voting strength of racial minorities. Section 2 prevents jurisdictions from enacting or maintaining practices designed to give minorities an unfair chance to elect candidates of their choice and is enforceable nationwide. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires certain areas of the country to obtain "preclearance" from the US Attorney General or the US District Court for the District of Columbia for any changes in laws or practices that involve voting. These areas that must seek preclearance are known as "covered jurisdictions."
Toward a Bioregional State:
Toward a Bioregional State:
This is a site of letters similar to the Federalist Papers, though it is written by a bioregional "Publius."
Publius was the pen name adopted by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, as they made their arguments in popular newspapers for their popularizing of the United States Constitution, in the 1780s.
However, unlike them, this is a bioregional Publius who wants democracy in practice instead of democracy in the abstract, and one who wants sustainabilty instead of unsustainability.
We are facing a similar project presently, I am arguing--how can we achive a democracy that is environmentally sustainable, when the present frameworks of democracy are what are leading us into environmental degradation? The following is a list of requirements, as well as arguments for why these requirements should be adopted, and why the present forms of government in the United States are leading us toward environmental degradation, low voter turnouts, and unrepresentative parties.
However, what I am arguing is that these are general structural requirements for all states as they move towards sustainability, instead of talking only about the United States. The United States can be considered the running example in these letters though. Structurally, the state in general requires changing, instead of only a change on the the level of political party ideas for instance.
These bioregional letters propose how existing unsustainable states could be 'made over' into sustainable states: typically, a different topic is addressed in each letter.
There are 27 bioregional Publius letters--so far. State structures are far from the only aspect of importance, though they are a formal requirement. (I am working on other issues beside the state--science, finance, and consumption; see a list of the letters and bioregional maps of political districts, or read them in the order they were created by following the pages below for continuity, since they build upon themselves instead of represent separate topics.)
20TH LETTER 'ECOLOGIZES' THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
The 20th letter is a petition that 'ecologizes' the U.S. Constitution, compiling into a single document all the formal framework ideas for working towards sustainability. See the link from the list of all letters, above.
COMMENTS FROM THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SIGNED THE BIOREGIONAL STATE PETITION:
"Damned right!" --N.S., Wisconsin.
"Instead of undermining and destroying the inherent protections of liberty as USA PATRIOT has done, this constitution espouses and enhances the intent of freedom as defined by America's Founding Fathers. I wholeheartedly approve of such, and would like to see more legislation of this kind." -- M.M, Texas.
"Great stuff.. tired of a lobbyist, elite form of govt..." - N.T., Florida
"I really think that the owner of this website should not have the website ask ones E-mail address. Some people might not feel very comfortable entering their own web address. This is one of the first times I have ever entered a valid E-mail Address. Your very lucky you know. Other than that, I like this website very much!" --- T.L. [yes, you can always leave out your email if you want.]
"I called for a new Constitutional Convention after the USSC installed Bush, thereby voiding our Republic. Good work!" - H.W., Florida
"American citizen residing overseas." -- R.F., Japan
TOWARD A BIOREGIONAL STATE: People Have Right to Stop Ecological Tyranny & Make Democracy
"Presently we are trapped within these unecological democracies that are underwriting and protecting this process of politically sponsored ecological degradation. How do we instead explain to others that the state has an Ecological Contract with its people, and if such a contract is neglected, they can overthrow it as an ecological tyranny?" . . . ". . .a people's self-interest is geographically specific and protective of a particular geography. . . .Citizen feedback is always in and from particular geographic spaces and human-environmental contexts. To create the additional checks and balances for an ecologically sound developmentalism is merely to latch onto and facilitate an already-existing affirmative feedback from watersheds/bioregions that is ignored though waiting to be formally organized. This is done by aligning political feedback as closely as possible to a direct feedback from particular geographically specific areas into the state. My [first] suggestion is through watershed based vote districting."
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