Read

User menu

Search form

Anti-Gerrymandering Ballot Measures Went Undefeated In 2018

Anti-Gerrymandering Ballot Measures Went Undefeated In 2018
Mon, 11/26/2018 - by Matt Higgins

Voters in four states – Michigan, Utah, Missouri and Colorado – all approved ballot measures preventing state legislatures from gerrymandering districts in favor of one political party, signaling a growing movement determined to restore fairness to the ballot box.

As of a late vote count last week, Utah narrowly became the fourth state to pass a ballot measure ending gerrymandering. Ohio also passed a ballot measure earlier this year restricting gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering goes back to the early 19th century when Massachusetts Governor Eldrige Gerry signed into law a bill that redrew Massachusetts voting districts to benefit his party, the Democratic-Republicans. Gerrymandering has infamously been used over the decades to disenfranchise African-Americans and other racial minorities.

However, it has become an even more significant partisan issue since 2010, when Republicans made big gains in the midterms and turned the census year redistricting process into a zero sum game – redrawing districts everywhere to the benefit of Republicans.

This was overwhelmingly evident in Wisconsin where, in 2012, Republicans won 60 of the 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly despite winning only 48.6 percent of the statewide vote. In 2014 in the state, Republicans had won 63 seats while capturing just 52 percent of the vote.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a case this summer involving the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s gerrymandered districts, but remanded the case to the district level.

The Republican controlled legislature in Pennsylvania did something similar. In Pennsylvania, though, the state Supreme Court overturned the redistricting law in January and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. In the midterms, Democrats flipped four House seats in the Keystone State, while Republicans flipped one.

Gerrymandering is not limited to Republicans. The Democrat-controlled Maryland legislature has been accused of using its advantage to redraw maps in their favor in the past. As a result, non-partisan watchdog groups like the Brennan Center for Justice issued a report on the effects of recent gerrymandering.

“Regardless of the 2018 midterms’ outcome, this report’s findings serve as a wake-up call: Courts must act to rein in extreme partisan gerrymandering or 2021’s redistricting will see even more unresponsive, durable, and undemocratic congressional maps,” the Brennan Center reported.

The anti-gerrymandering ballot measures approved this year do something important: They create independent commissions. The eligible members and the powers of the commissions vary by state, but common to them all is a system intended to prevent one political party from controlling the committee.

The Founding Fathers' fear of government working to diminish the right to vote is seen in some of the earliest writings in the country. In Federalist Papers 52, which addresses the House of Representatives, James Madison with Alexander Hamilton state: “The definition of the right of suffrage is very justly regarded as a fundamental article of republican government. It was incumbent on the convention, therefore, to define and establish this right in the Constitution…….To have submitted it to the legislative discretion of the States, would have been improper.”

The recently passed ballot measures are an attempt to uphold this tradition. Non-partisan organizations in three states – Oklahoma, Arkansas and Virginia – are meanwhile pushing similar measures for approval before the next round of redistricting takes place in 2021.

Sign Up

Article Tabs

A special episode dedicated to the most militarized land in the world—one that you may not even have ever heard of.

Restoring Internet Freedom Order, FCC rules, net neutrality, Internet freedom, fast line, Big Telecom, telecommunications industry, Ajit Pai

Access matters, and unequal access can have onerous consequences for those who can’t afford the fast lane.

Brexit, Brexit opposition, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, no-deal Brexit

“This historic defeat will show that the government is deadlocked – and we now need to throw this back to the people and give them a final say," said Paul Butters of Best for Britain.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

A special episode dedicated to the most militarized land in the world—one that you may not even have ever heard of.

Global investors managing $32tn are urging governments to phase out all coal burning. Photograph: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Global investors managing $32 trillion issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning.

Restoring Internet Freedom Order, FCC rules, net neutrality, Internet freedom, fast line, Big Telecom, telecommunications industry, Ajit Pai

Access matters, and unequal access can have onerous consequences for those who can’t afford the fast lane.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Medioimages/Photodisc/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

By doing away with single-family zoning, the city takes on high rent, long commutes, and racism in real estate in one fell swoop.

Brexit, Brexit opposition, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, no-deal Brexit

“This historic defeat will show that the government is deadlocked – and we now need to throw this back to the people and give them a final say," said Paul Butters of Best for Britain.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Posted 6 days 6 hours ago
Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

Posted 6 days 18 hours ago
Minds, anti-Facebook, crypto social network, surveillance programs, social media addiction

Now is the time to defend the remnants of the Information Revolution. Take off the corporate gag, close the social media surveillance blinds, and shift.

Posted 6 days 6 hours ago
Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP, Wisconsin protests

Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is also trying to disempower the state’s newly-elected Democratic governor.

Posted 6 days 18 hours ago
rising emissions, climate catastrophe, Global Carbon Project, climate impacts, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

According to a new Global Carbon Project report, emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts that are urgently needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago
Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP, Wisconsin protests

Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is also trying to disempower the state’s newly-elected Democratic governor.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

rising emissions, climate catastrophe, Global Carbon Project, climate impacts, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

According to a new Global Carbon Project report, emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts that are urgently needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Protesters on Sunday in Katowice, which is hosting the UN climate conference. Photograph: Sadak Souici/Le Pictorium/Barcroft Images

The move shocked delegates at a UN conference in Poland as ministers flew in for the final week of climate talks.

rising inequality, income inequality, global wealth, costs of inequality

Americans pay a steep price for not spreading their wealth around as well as other developed countries.