The way we draw our political districts has a huge effect on U.S. politics, but the process is also greatly misunderstood. Gerrymandering has become a scapegoat for what’s wrong with the polarized American political system, blamed for marginalizing groups and rigging elections, but there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all design solution for drawing fair districts. Drawing districts may be the most important design problem of representative democracy and this week FiveThirtyEight will guide us through the ways different states have tackled this problem.
Check out the full Five Thirty Eight series The Gerrymandering Project
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars
We wanted to do a story about gerrymandering for years once you too,
it has given that we want to live in a representative democracy. The next question, because
how are we best represent it? We now
he did divide ourselves in the groups, but on
basis. The lines be drawn basic
aggravate is a place to start, but there are always exceptions and nuances that make defining voting districts solely among geographic boundaries problematic. I think,
as a design problem, maybe the most important design problem of democracy are friends over five hundred and thirty, eight recently dope deep into this topic with the six part series, it examines gerrymandering, indifferent,
dates around the country. It's called the gerrymandering project,
turns out each state that they profiles is dealing with representation and gerrymandering differently. This.
Are really acting as the laboratories of democracy that, U S Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said they were we
when to spend the whole episode this week, exploring that series in plain scenes from four different episodes about gerrymandering in four different states?
our guide along the way will be the host of the gerrymandering project in producer at five thirty eight Galen drink. Thank you for being here. Go hey. Roman thanks
having me so this might seem like an obvious question, but does laid out for us what
is gerrymandering gerrymandering at its most basic, is
drawing district lines to achieve a specific goal. I think the most common
form of gerrymandering that people are familiar with. It
artisan gerrymandering, which would be drawing
I'm in a way that advantage one party over another,
you could also draw lines to protect incumbents or you could racially gerrymander to dilute minorities, voting power, so
there's more than one kind of gerrymandering, but at its core. It's just manipulating lines with a goal in mind, so implicit in the idea that
a gerrymander district is manipulated. Is that
some natural way that a district should be drawn, and that doesn't seem like that's right. I mean how do you really determine what the natural state of a district is? Yes, you're right
There is no redistricting plan that is blessed by the grace of God
You know there are nine rivers, streams, mountains and redistricting plans. Oftentimes people will just
a further something as gerrymandered when they don't like the result or if it looks funny
and who decides how districts get drawn generally. For the most part, state legislators come up with maps that are then approved by state
governors and, in some cases, states have overhaul the process to give the power to an independent commission, but for the most part at state governments and the way that the party in
RO can achieve an advantage over the party out of control is by packing and cracking their voters.
Which would mean in some instances
a lot of that parties. Voters in one district so as to make them waste a bunch of their votes, because, theoretically any vote over fifty one percent would be a wasted voted
helping to elect anybody and then, on the other hand, you have cracking which would be dividing up that parties voters so that they can't reach fifty one percent in any one district, forcing them to waste votes in another way
so in the fight against serious Galen. Looked at for different states that are either currently dealing with or have recently dealt with the question of gerrymandering, I'm gonna hear tape and talk a little bit about each of those states will start with
was constant. So just a little background in twenty ten was constant, Republicans one unified control of the state government. This was a particularly big deal because it happened to be a redistricting year. It was the first time
decades that a single party had total control of the state government as the State Redruth, its political matters.
Republicans took full advantage. They drew met
Democrats allowed or very
favourable to republican candidates. This
they didn't sit well with the Democrats and they filed suit now, prolonged
I'm anti gerrymandering activists have been trying to find cases that they could bring before the Supreme Court to try to get a ruling that this kind of political manipulation is unconstitutional, that it violates
either. The first amendment were the fourteenth amendment
and one civil rights lawyer in particular a man named Peter Earl.
Digging into the Wisconsin case in uncovering details. He found out that republic
had drawn these maps in a secret office?
republican lawmakers had signed secrecy agreements not to discuss the shape of the new districts, but
I didn't know the extent to which Republicans had gone to secure a person advantage. Will it Galen
they get from here to morrow
Partner still didn't have a full picture of how the maps were drawn, a detail that would be key to their case, so they continued to dig deeper.
And they noticed the email records from some people didn't mean
the email records from the people there
indicating with and that racist
shows and we began to demand
more and more information, and the court finally ordered them to turn
the hard drive, so we can forensically look at them, so the
these hired a forensic examiner? He was able
determine that hundreds at that
The documents had been deleted with a wiping software prior to the hard drives being turned over to us, but they were able
uncovered the deleted documents, including a number of spreadsheets and
but she said what really told the story you. We were able to see every integration of the map as they went from the base line to the method they finally adopted
The map drawers used years of partisan voting data to design maps that strongly favoured Republicans. We found
that there was a professor by the name of Keith Gatt
from the University of Oklahoma, who had been her
aired by the Republicans to develop.
A very sophisticated multivariate
russian analysis of partisan performance based on on boats in the assembly districts from two thousand six, two thousand eight two thousand and ten
They they actually downloaded this proxy into the
software that they were using to draw the maps so
after hours, moved the lines on the software. They could see how it affected the partisan lean of the districts in real time. The three reports
kids who were responsible for drawing these maps, declined to be interviewed on the record, and then they mate lately
up in the ante in terms of how many republican seats they were guaranteed the map.
Ultimately came up with was designed to elect Republicans to fifty nine of the ninety nine assembly seats with just forty nine percent of the vote, a strong majority with a minority of the stay right vote. They had occurred
for in effect, the largest swings between democratic turn
and Republican turn out during the preceding decade,
the painters are now presenting those spreadsheets to the Supreme Court as evidence that the Republicans set out to disadvantaged demo,
at the moment that I would do we realise this was like I it was like. I would you reek a moment at the rage, the anger that I felt that the outrage that these people would commit, this level of a crime against the democratic process was which is
down. At that point, we decided we were going to do something about this. I mean this sounds to comply.
The pernicious and horrible. What is the defence
against this, like what is the actual argument that can be made as this is smoking gun. So the most blunt argument that Wisconsin Republicans will make is
Partisan gerrymandering is an illegal state legislators
have been drawing maps that advantage one party over another four, like over a hundred years and so
Their basically saying he. This is a bit hypocritical.
A wired Democrats all of a sudden outraged about part.
Gerrymandering after they have been doing it for years themselves. Democrats,
The case will respond and say you know this is a civil rights issue when it's gotten so far out of hand that the Supreme Court does finally need to step in and
then the Republicans will say: okay. If the Supreme Court is going to step, and then you have to have a very clear standard of what is and is not fair in drawing maps and, ultimately that's a really really difficult line to draw
right because the judicial branch doesn't really want to get involved, withdrawing every law,
on a map
you could see where they be reticent to do this, that this is up to the legislature for sure
so, for conservatives on the cork Strong
We believe that judicial over reach is a threat to our governmental system. Yes, that's that would be terrible if courts around the country were basically drawing maps that we're supposed to be drawn by the state legislature. So if they are going to wait into this issue, they want to be able to have like a very clear standard for what is and is not fair and then
get themselves back out of the process so that state legislatures can follow those guidelines? Anthony Kennedy has made it clear in the past that he does not like partisan gerrymandering he's reticent, however, of waiting into this. For that exact reason, he doesn't want courts across the country repeatedly. Getting involved in this issue
dry maps of the legislature should be drawn in so where does there was concern situation currently stand? We are we
informed decision. This Supreme Court heard oral arguments last fall.
And we will have a decision in this case by June, and
You know the decision in this case could be a pretty big deal if the Supreme Court sides with there Wisconsin Democrats, that could mean that there's a whole
a lot more court cases. Far
doing the same model, saying that the maps and
states are illegal and need to be redrawn, so was content
is a pretty obvious example of partisan gerrymandering. But now what
returned to North Carolina were legislators have drawn lines with race in mind. The vote
Rights ACT has been interpreted over the years to mean that states need to draw maps that don't
minority voters and allow minority communities to elect candidates of their choice in North Carolina. That
in the early nineties, nineties maps were drawn
but certain districts would favour african american candidates. It worked. North Carolina, elected black
representatives to the? U S house for the first time since reconstruction. This was a huge
success african american community? There was also
good for another group, North Carolina Republicans to understand why consider this
black North Carolinians overwhelmingly vote democratic, my packing,
these voters into a small number of districts. Were black candidates but likely win the legislature also diminished black
those in power in other districts around the state alone, Republicans to die.
Dominate the overall political landscape of the state, different people,
North Carolina have very different opinions about this place.
Tape now from the North Carolina episode of the gerrymandering project that illustrates the super
I have never person
we ve been one. Thank that increasing the numbers of the black Carcass and Congress for X
apple necessarily equated to apply for african american Community, Derek Psmith, a political action chair for the state and
way. They can ensure that African Americans get sent to legislate
the bodies, and that looks good on election day when they can stand up and say, look look at what we did for you all. We ll get even Clayton and male. Why into Congress in the nineteen nineties, but on the whole the effect was
that was when the state began to shift towards a
looking dominated carcass Annette happen all throughout the sir he's in favour
african american voters influencing various districts. I've always
other african american voices there are numerous and loud enough and active in many different places
land to the likelihood that policy decisions will consider african Americans more than they do and white and black Democrats can form coalitions. Tool
fact minority candidates more easily than they were once able to North Carolina Smith points to a famous example. President Obama is a classic example of that
If we confuse together our common interests, which affect the governance
for the good of all,
Then it doesn't matter erase Reggie Weaver
cause, I tend to agree in origin,
has been made. The yes in justification of racially pact districts, that minority cannon
so it would not be elected in any other way. There may
you some truth there I don't know
to me, then the answer is it to pack dish
and weaken the minority voice and other areas. He says that that won't get at the root of the problem.
What I personally more then as you, why is it
why is it that ties after murder me? I'm gonna have a weaker chance in a purely computer.
They should just along parsimony of Asia. I think that that gets to deeper questions that we are yet to resolve
country about about race, but the idea
less emphasis should be put on race when drawing districts is not a universal one. Again, here's PAM stops, who worked in
means Boroughs District Office when it was first one by Male WOT in ninety ninety three until the playing
is level in America, then we will always need out Menard districts and so far the playing ground is not level stubs is on,
sure that african american law makers will maintain their ranks if these districts are dismantled and act,
Emma Research suggests that that could cause some ripple affects the press.
Of minority lawmakers can boost. Voter turnout among minorities can also increase their trust and engagement with politicians. One study done after Democrats began drawing down. The black populations
minority districts and the two thousands showed that minority members of Congress are more likely to advocate
for their communities. Priorities than white members of the same party have
realize most of those Menard districts where Creed,
aided after the nineteen learn senses when there was
in a minority representation across the club tree in in Congress?
so even though their safe near you have to understand why they were created case in point visit. The civil rights museum
Greensborough, my name is Cassandra Williams and I would like to personally welcome you to the international Civil Rights Centre and museum when you arrive
the voting rights, act section of the museum thereto.
Breaking instalment now, where we look at this list
while here you see African Americans elected to federal or statewide constitutional offices,
it's a floor to ceiling list showing the date african american lawmakers were elected from each state. Let s look at North Carolina
in the years right after
the civil war during reconstruction. We see that there were four
men elected to represent the state of North Carolina in the House of Representatives, but then we,
about a hundred year gap before MRS Eva Clayton was elected to represent North Carolina in state after state across the south that one,
Third year gap? Persistent, we say that same gap in South Carolina. We see it in Alabama Florida.
We see eighteen, seventy one and then another hundred year gap is there. We
can see it in Georgia in Louisiana from eighteen.
Seventy five and then not until nineteen. Ninety one in many states that gap only ends in the early nineteen nineties, when states were forced to draw majority black districts.
So it's easy to understand why the conversation about majority minority districts can be so contentious an emotional. If the laws
favours unpacking minority districts. It could become more difficult to ensure
for the African Americans are elected at the same rate that they have been. For example, North Carolina State legislative map is currently being redrawn to unpack the majority, mind
Ernie districts. The chair of the legislator, black caucus Angela Brian, is,
likely to lose her seat in the redraw accurately.
We grant are losing my districts and the coalition there have been formed in the district. I regret that
at the same time, the gerrymandering was a bird. She says it's for the best. I'm convinced that
people like me lose out to have a firm foundation upon which we are doing this redistricting. We will be better off overtime.
This was the episode that most boy
my brain. I think I don't know. Proof is like where you it together, but there is so many interests that have to be
balanced and somebody interests that I really support and want to have happen. I know it's it's them
it's crazy. How many values you have to juggle to draw these lines yet, and I mean this is really even just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the interests that you have to consider in dry
a district map- this is a really difficult conversation, especially for Democrats to have because on one hand you know they want to have the best shot at winning majorities, that they can
and on the other hand, if we are going
to no longer have much
pretty minority districts that might envy
of amending the Voting Rights ACT and that's a really difficult conversation for Democrats to have, because, as a platform Democrats, you no support
enhancing the voting power of minorities. So we talked about
this value of competitiveness, and- and that brings us
the state Arizona in twenty Levin they tried to get power.
Our maps over to an independent commission and a big
The goal was to increase competitiveness and elections. Can you keep describe what
thinking was in an and why they create commission to preference this particular value. Yes, if you
Americans, they love competitive elections. You know, of course, from there it gets a little
complicated, but in general, competition is a thing that Americans value like what's more american than competition into
a thousand Arizona through
a ballot initiative, meaning that just Arizona all across the state voted on this single item saying: do you want to create an independent commission to draw the state maps, take the power away from the state legislature and Arizona
I voted yes, and so for the first time in two thousand one, an independent commission drew the maps and then, for a second time in two thousand eleven, an independent commission also drew them
and in doing this you know the drafters of this ballot initiative.
Had to basically say these? Are the criteria for drawing the maps that this independent commission has to follow and, uniquely in Arizona one of those criteria was competitiveness is in fact it's the only state in the country that requires an independent,
or you know, even lawmakers for that matter- to try to make districts competitive in bacon
if you mean that,
depending on the candidate
Maybe I equally likely,
that a democratic republic could be elected? Em honey, define competitive yeah. I mean in kind of wonky world, of five thirty, eight, we d
I competitiveness as within five points of the,
on average in a presidential election? So
basically a district where you would expect a close race, and so this got
very controversial. Very fast. Can you tell us what happened so at the time in two thousand and eleven Republicans controlled both chambers of the state ledges
later, and you know they were not all that interested in enhancing competition, because enhancing competition would mean probably a better chance. That Democrats would take some of those seats.
From then on the other hand, of course, Democrats wanted competition at the heart of this was
one woman who was the independent chair of the commission, so the commission is five people to Republicans to democratic
and one independent chair who ends up being the thai breaker and
you listen to the absurd. You can decide for yourself whether not that's a good system for creating an independent commission. Ultimately, this independent chair kind, Mathis became the focal point of all of this disagreement between the two
parties over how the district should be drawn, and things actually kind of scary. For her to be honest,
ok. We're gonna play a little bit of the Arizona episode of the gerrymandering project, which deals
but these maps that were drawn to increase competitiveness- and this is-
starts in a public hearing about the map, drawing company that the end
Can the commission chose? Let's all rise for the pledge of allegiance. I pledge allegiance
of the United States of America, I want to see
right. Now. Forgive me, I'm not going
whose niceties- because I am so upset over this situation-
swayed to describe what I think is. It was like a beehive. All kinds of people were there and
the way they were looking at me. I could just tell they weren't happy with me. That's calling matters. It was June thirtieth toothache
eleven and she was chairing a public hearing of Arizona, independent Redistricting Commission, the group of
citizens tasked with redrawing Arizona, political boundaries, it was a pact room, is standing
I'm only my husband actually was there any went and stood in the doorway. He was concerned frankly for this.
Fifty of all of us, because it just seemed like
heightened level of intensity. The commission
just decided which mapping company should draw Arizona new district lines which are the boundaries that help determine who you vote for and Republicans warrant happy
so slanted, have your votes being against Republicans that there is no question, but the goal of this commission is. But what can we expect
when the independent is not really an independent she's married to an activist Democrat
one after another, each of the people who filled up the request to speak forms came up and
He must be rated me. Mostly. There are many mapping companies out their sorry, I'm so upset that you could have
there are no political. Why didn't she?
The map in company had done work for democratic campaigns and Republicans,
aimed math, is for choosing a biased company after tending
two meanings. My feelings are that this is a predetermined process with one agenda re map, Arizona to improve democratic representation. What were you saw after the mapping? It's almost appointed was a lot of pitch works and tortures here in Arizona, because I think the public really knew at that point that the mapping wasn't gonna be fair. You know, I thought this commission was supposed to be non partisan. Damn you can get
anymore, piracy, and then DAS. It was scary. Frankly, a few weeks after the mapping consultant decision,
Being state senator had suggested are reported in the press that,
there was a target on me and arm and therewith scary. He said quote: the gun is loaded and it's just figuring out. What too pointed out and went to pull the trigger a court,
to the Yellow Sheet Report, a political newsletter in Arizona, Enginrie, told the press at the time that he used
military analogies because he was in the military and that he wasn't targeting anyone when people talk about
targets and guns. It's not something. The mess with
only six months earlier mouth is
congressional representative had been shot through the head at point. Blank way,
I was in Tucson when it happened and any
but he who was in Tucson remembers
a day very well because it was was a dark day during her
different meeting at a grocery store in Tucson, Congresswoman, Gabby Difference and eighteen other people were shot, six died that unfortunate.
Awfulness occurred in January of twenty eleven and
I was sworn in March of twenty eleven, and so this
that summer. After that- and it's just.
It's hard to talk about it masses, so she and her husband, bought plywood at home depot and boarded up their bedroom windows and just ended up. Can it make
our bedroom at least a safe zone, because we just felt kind of like you'd, be
is to be able to sleep at night and not worry that somebody was looking in the windows are gonna. Do anything. They also went to the Department of Justice in Washington. We talk to some folks, Addio, J and, and they had an FBI person said in their safety. Concerns would continue for years to come in two thousand, twelve, with litigation still ongoing. Their house was broken into a year after that the commission's office was broken into and the computers of all the commissioners were stolen
we don't know if it was related to redistricting, but what I did occur. Mathesons her mother told her to quit,
I never was gonna quit.
Just knew that if you quit,
giving in to that's exactly what they want you to do is real
intense. So what happened with these new competitive
perhaps that were drawn in Arizona you know,
story. It ends up being.
The most intense, I think, redistricting process. Probably the country has arisen,
team the governor and legislature impeach Malthus than she gets reinstated. Ultimately, they passed the maps and they did end up enhancing competition
in Arizona during the two thousand sixteen election. There was one district in Arizona that voted for Hillary Clinton for President and voted for a Republican and the house, and there was another district that voted for Trump as president and voted
for a Democrat and the house- that's pretty rare. In the end, it states these days where we have a very polarized political environment in generally Democrats and republicans- don't live together. So it's very rare that we see those kinds of voting patterns. So, yes, the districts that they set out to create as competitive districts do function as competitive districts, but, of course, that the path to getting there was a very acrimonious
and so I mean when you went there and
story, I mean what do you think of competitiveness as a value when it comes to drawing maps? So it's a complicated one. When we look at american politics
because you know we say we want competitive elections and, in theory,
competitive elections, make lawmakers more accountable right if your basic
guaranteed to win your primary when your general election, then you're, not that accountable, and if voters don't have options, then do you really live in a representative democracy? At the same time,
patterns in the ways that american voters have clustered make competitive
districts really hard to achieve. Republicans and Democrats don't live in similar area.
And less and less american voters switch back and forth between parties from one election to the next, and so you really have to kind of work at creating competitive districts. So
The last day you covered in the german or in product is California, like yours,
they also started an independent commission to redraw districts, but they did it
a slightly different reason. Here's a clip from that episode. What caused California to create its commission did not have to do with the same old, partisan type of gerrymandering. It is much more to do with
directing the incumbent, the way they draw the distant lives, is the predicted incumbents? That's well I'll, let him introduce himself
Mono Schwarzenegger and
governor of the State of California, from two thousand and three to two thousand and eleven? He backed redistricting reform as governor and has since continue to advocate, for I'm a big believer that must terminated Joe
entering in America. When you look at the distant lies, the way they are drawn to make absolutely no sense to anyone, but it is.
Or designed to keep Democrat separate from Republic it. This strategy for drawing
created an environment in which lawmakers felt entitled to groups of voters. They saw as beneficial to them without much regard for existing communities orgy,
Coffee, in LOS Angeles, for instance, create town, was split into three or four districts. The filipino
Our community was split in two coffee friend
Is the national redistricting director of the non partisan group common cause, she's, also its executive director in California?
during the two thousand one around of redistricting. She testified to the legislature about how the line should be drawn to keep asian communities who
as we traveled up and down the state. We were hearing these stories about people feeling for the first time the importance of talking about their communities fangs,
during the process. She got a call from a democratic assembly person. I had received a phone call
a legislator from San Francisco and
was my first. I'm talking to you know with some
a person or a senator and as a
attorney. It was quite exciting to receive this phone call, and this person called me
who essentially Tommy Cathy you're, not
put another nation in my district, I asked her to identify the lawmaker Carol Maiden
she's out of office now. So I guess I can say your name. It brought me to tears
Because it was a realisation that we still have
a lot of racism in this country and even in a very blue state, like California, people come to power
or with a sense of entitlement that allows
to make decisions
about excluding people based on race in order to protect their own seats. One reached for comment Carol Maiden said she did not recall the conversation. In the end, it was clear that the
legislature was not interested in considering public testimony like fangs. What we
found out was that after four months of public hearings,
legislature went behind closed doors and drew the lines that they had always
intended to the California set at past the maps on September twelve too
I was in one and the assembly pass them a day later, while the rest of the nation was rocking from this terrorist attack that had happened
and there was essentially a media blackout quite
firstly, there was
a real moment of reflection about
whether or not our democracy is functioning. Their incumbent protection plan was overwhelmingly successful.
The deal that was passed in two thousand and one made
our map almost impervious to change. Only one incumbent flaw
real action in a general election between two
two and twenty ten California had insulated itself from the political volatility facing the rest of the country. A few of the races were even close to two hundred sixty five: U S house!
traces in California. Only fourteen of them were decided by less than ten points, just five percent of California congressional elections work,
I always said you know that the Soviet Politburo,
What changed over there
our assistance in California
so so what happened in California like? How did they combat this problem of incumbency? Incumbency bias, Californians in the period from
You know the early two, thousands to two thousand ten,
as you may remember, in California, we're very very upset with the state legislature. I mean at a certain point. I think their approval rating was at ten percent
so you had Governor Schwarzenegger and activists really agitating against the legislature and so between common cause.
The organisation that Cathy Fang works with and other
non partisan and partisan groups, as well as the governor they kind of got together and back again,
a ballot initiative like in Arizona to take the power of drawing these district maps.
Way from the state legislature and to give it to an independent commission,
into what is the basis that they that they, Independent Commission drew their maps so where,
in Arizona we had. One of the criteria was competitiveness. That was not the case in California. One of the meat,
criteria in California was to respect and impact
or communities of interest, and that relates to Cathy fangs experience with the
an american community in California and the way
She saw them basically being disregarded in favour of incumbents own electoral priorities, and so what the Independent Commission did
California, was it travelled around the city and listened to?
members of communities
simply say, basically define their own communities of interest and that could range
anywhere from Korea, town to Vienna warnings,
There were how successful worthy what a day when it these maps- and
as horses in away or you know. One example was even like the sound
approving community around allay acts. The Alex Airport, in LOS Angeles
interesting Enzo, how successful worthy when what did have they wanted these maps and up resulting yet so what
one of the complications with this way of mapping is that it's hard to tell whether or not people are being sincere,
What they consider as their communities of interest, like political
or consultants came in and basically organised
people around communities that may have been disingenuous in an attempt to influence the map drawing process, for
artisan reasons, and so,
There is good reason to believe that they were successful in some cases. Ultimately, though, I think California was pretty successful at appeasing both sides of the ILO and getting a relatively fair me
I mean, if you look at different statistical analyses of the vote percentage compared with the seat, share. California's maps are pretty fair to Democratic Republic,
and so what are you take away from all is reporting you get newer steeped in this for months and months and months, some when did you come away with? Ah indeed, I was sure if we, if we look at the four different examples, that
we have just discussed first. What you're realise is that all of these different priorities, so
one being fairness between the two parties,
to being fairness in
presenting minorities, three being can
additive nest in elections and for being respectful of communities as they exist on a map. You'll start to understand that these
things do contradict each other. There are situations in which enhancing the opportunity
or minority candidate to get elected could put Republicans at an advantage electoral. So, ultimately, the people who draw maps have to make
recalled value choices. Oftentimes are people who draw out only care about partisan advantage right, and so you know, that's basically
that's the way that maps have been drawn for a long time. But if
going to reform the process. You still have to be awfully thoughtful about the Van
I use that you want to prioritize amongst those four things and which of these four states teeth
he's doing the best job with this. If you look at California, that is the place where you will talk to both Republicans and Democrats, who say that the mapping process overall,
this fair and you don't there obviously darkens we're hooligans? Who will disagree with that, but it was a rare example in the months that I spent reporting on us that
who did come to some by partisan agreement about the success of the results
Is this a function of it by
in drawn by an independent commission. Is this what this success really points to? You know, I think I think that's part often
Americans distrust partisan legislators to put aside their parties.
Ship in order to do what is quite unquote, fair. Obviously, the people who wrote the ballot initiative in California look
some of these examples and other states they use.
There had already been around every district in Arizona. They had other states to look out as well and think about where other states may have gone wrong and try to correct for that. You know you said
that of the american states are laboratories for democracy and a result of different states getting to try out litigate vote for
Yeah draw maps. How they want to is that we get,
see the results of a whole bunch of different efforts, and I do think that the people in power
When you were very thoughtful about the way that they wrote the law that guided this process, so what do you expect?
come out of that Wisconsin case
the million dollar question. Honestly, I have no idea, but what I can tell you is that if this constant Democrats win this case, you will read.
Plenty of newspapers Supreme Court, ends gerrymandering.
I can tell you right now that that will basically be Alai, because if that was Democrats win level,
it will actually do is start a very long process of determining what ultimately is fair when it comes to partisan advantage in drawing maps right I mean, unless the supreme,
says. You know you have to use this statistical model and it has to be within this percentage or blah blah blah blah blah blah, which I have no reason to believe that they would do. Then it's going to start a process of a lot of different lawsuits that litigate this in different ways that ultimately try to land on what is
Fair and you know what it could be that we never really land on anything I mean that's what's happening with the Voting Rights ACT. Right now is that we
We have a strong conception of what is fair in how much to cluster minority voters together right. That could end up happening with partisan gerrymandering and you could say that's all worth it and we need to have that debate and
You know, you know we're happy for all the lawyers that are that they're going to be employed for the coming decades off of all of these lawsuits, but it's a conversation we need to have, but you know, even if it was causing Democrats, don't we
Don't think that the conversation about gerrymandering goes away because, as were seen even now in Pennsylvania, there are a lot of.
Different avenues to litigate this,
and so no matter what
the decision is in there was content Supreme Court case. I can promise you that this is going to be a conversation for years to come.
Why don't we just have computers draw district lines
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So the woman told me that, when the jury, mentoring project came out when the biggest questions they got from listeners was about algorithms. Why not take this huh
oh process out of the hands of humans and just use
an algorithm to draw totally random boxes on a map. In some ways you could you just right
new laws saying that we want an algorithm to draw on nice, neat shapes on a map problem.
The area where you run into the most trouble is the Voting Rights ACT, which specifically requires that minorities not have their vote.
Diluted answers, sometimes just drawing map
randomly according to shape, could potentially
I the Voting Rights ACT. On top of that, whether
not we're talking about a minority community oftentimes people want their community in one district right. If you're going to have a representative, you want them to represent
something- and so if you have an algorithm that draws the map randomly people might not feel like they ve been
Group, together with their community, an algorithm cannot hold a hundred different.
Community meetings and listen to people talk about where their community is. So, if you look at California
Independent commission website one of the like commonly asked questions. You know why doesn't an algorithm do this and that's what they'll say you know an algorithm can't listen to community
priorities. Galen is not against using algorithms in redistricting, but he says they don't change them.
That drawing lines on a map forces you to make difficult choices. You still have to programme the algorithm to priority,
as certain values, the same way that you would have to instruct a legislative body or an independent commission. To do that. So you know I mean
program. You have to say we want districts to be compact or we want districts to respect existing municipal boundaries.
Here. We want you algorithm to make the districts competitive, Amene, still its
like algorithm, tat, values, idlers and how itself it at all. It really seems to
potentially solve is calling math
doesn't get death threats right. I think there are plenty of people who will tell you the algorithms have a place in this process and, yes, it can make this process easier and potentially fairer, but it's not a silver bullet
its Galen House
of the gerrymandering project upon podcast,
serious from five thirty. Eight
Matlin was the editor of Project Kate,
back to your Rover in Alice Wilder contributed to the production? If you enjoy this
we really really encourage you to go. Listen to the whole series. They gonna do so much more detail and it was completely fascinating. The team of other.
It also put together all these incredible maps and graphics that you can play around
to try to understand different this.
Key priorities and how they impact the shapes of the maps. There'll be links
our website. Ninety I dot org
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.