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"Simple question" What does "not-gerrymandered" look like?

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  • "Simple question" What does "not-gerrymandered" look like?

    "Simple" question What is the goal of a "not-gerrymandered" district?

    Gerrymandered seems to have the old "I know it when I see it" definition. But what does Not-Gerrymandered mean? The US states, as a whole, given the age and stability of their borders, probably represent the closest thing to "not gerrymandered" and you can see that most behave as packed districts. *By age and stability, meaning that enough time has passed that the original purpose of the borders placement has faded into the background, and population moves could have conceivably (if not in actuality) changed any "party picking" done in the establishment of the border. Barring Alaska/Hawaii, the youngest states are now over 100 years old. That's alot of time for population shifts to occur.

    So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?

    Another hypothetical purley "not gerrymandered" concept would be to randomly assign each person in the state to a virtual district. There's no borders, and in essence a state would have a number of state-wide elections equal to their rep count, with the voters being randomly assigned. This means each virtual district would have a proportion of voters nearly identical to the statewide distribution. The outcome of which would be, in all likelihood, that virtually all reps would end up with the party that has the majority in the state.

    So, from a "pure" not-gerrymandered standpoint, Natural borders and pure randomized, both end up having "gerrymandered-like" impact that is often fought against.

    So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?

  • #2
    Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
    "Simple" question What is the goal of a "not-gerrymandered" district?

    Gerrymandered seems to have the old "I know it when I see it" definition. But what does Not-Gerrymandered mean? The US states, as a whole, given the age and stability of their borders, probably represent the closest thing to "not gerrymandered" and you can see that most behave as packed districts. *By age and stability, meaning that enough time has passed that the original purpose of the borders placement has faded into the background, and population moves could have conceivably (if not in actuality) changed any "party picking" done in the establishment of the border. Barring Alaska/Hawaii, the youngest states are now over 100 years old. That's alot of time for population shifts to occur.

    So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?

    Another hypothetical purley "not gerrymandered" concept would be to randomly assign each person in the state to a virtual district. There's no borders, and in essence a state would have a number of state-wide elections equal to their rep count, with the voters being randomly assigned. This means each virtual district would have a proportion of voters nearly identical to the statewide distribution. The outcome of which would be, in all likelihood, that virtually all reps would end up with the party that has the majority in the state.

    So, from a "pure" not-gerrymandered standpoint, Natural borders and pure randomized, both end up having "gerrymandered-like" impact that is often fought against.

    So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?
    Any human-set district is going to be accused of gerrymandering.


    The only thought I have of a pure non-gerrymandered system would be to have a supercomputer randomly generate equal-sized (population) randomly shaped districts. And every new census, create new ones based on the new data. Not very feasible, but certainly about the only decent way to set a physical district that isn't able to be accused of gerrymandering. Now, if that sort of system went with a Ranked choice election system, that could actually be interesting.
    Last edited by Gondwanaland; 01-24-2021, 09:39 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post

      Any human-set district is going to be accused of gerrymandering.


      The only thought I have of a pure non-gerrymandered system would be to have a supercomputer randomly generate equal-sized (population) randomly shaped districts. And every new census, create new ones based on the new data. Not very feasible, but certainly about the only decent way to set a physical district that isn't able to be accused of gerrymandering. Now, if that sort of system went with a Ranked choice election system, that could actually be interesting.
      I happen to like the Shortest Splitline algorithm. https://rangevoting.org/SSArecursive.txt

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
        "]
        So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?
        Convex.
        Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

        mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

        Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.
        Mountain Man: this is how liberals argue these days, with labels instead of ideas.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gondwanaland View Post

          Any human-set district is going to be accused of gerrymandering.


          The only thought I have of a pure non-gerrymandered system would be to have a supercomputer randomly generate equal-sized (population) randomly shaped districts. And every new census, create new ones based on the new data. Not very feasible, but certainly about the only decent way to set a physical district that isn't able to be accused of gerrymandering. Now, if that sort of system went with a Ranked choice election system, that could actually be interesting.
          Not sure what you mean by "randomly shaped", but the N-S and E-W dimensions should have a small, defined ratio. And each district should have equal populations. Boundaries could be influenced by natural features like rivers and mountain ranges.

          I like the ranked choice addition, and also think there should be an equal number of polling places in each district.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
            "Simple" question What is the goal of a "not-gerrymandered" district?

            Gerrymandered seems to have the old "I know it when I see it" definition. But what does Not-Gerrymandered mean? The US states, as a whole, given the age and stability of their borders, probably represent the closest thing to "not gerrymandered" and you can see that most behave as packed districts. *By age and stability, meaning that enough time has passed that the original purpose of the borders placement has faded into the background, and population moves could have conceivably (if not in actuality) changed any "party picking" done in the establishment of the border. Barring Alaska/Hawaii, the youngest states are now over 100 years old. That's alot of time for population shifts to occur.

            So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?

            Another hypothetical purley "not gerrymandered" concept would be to randomly assign each person in the state to a virtual district. There's no borders, and in essence a state would have a number of state-wide elections equal to their rep count, with the voters being randomly assigned. This means each virtual district would have a proportion of voters nearly identical to the statewide distribution. The outcome of which would be, in all likelihood, that virtually all reps would end up with the party that has the majority in the state.

            So, from a "pure" not-gerrymandered standpoint, Natural borders and pure randomized, both end up having "gerrymandered-like" impact that is often fought against.

            So, when it comes to re-districting, what does "not Gerrymandered" like?
            That would mean that a lot of Red States would become Blue, like NC for example.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by kccd View Post

              That would mean that a lot of Red States would become Blue, like NC for example.
              If they vote

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              • #8
                Originally posted by kccd View Post

                That would mean that a lot of Red States would become Blue, like NC for example.
                At the same time, it would eliminate virtually all minority majority districts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                  Gerrymandered seems to have the old "I know it when I see it" definition. But what does Not-Gerrymandered mean?
                  There are now a few computer algorithms that can be run to determine how badly gerrymandered a district is. Googling 'gerrymandering detection algorithms' will find you some recent scientific papers on the subject as well as interviews with researchers and articles about it.

                  Basically courts said "how can we know when a district is gerrymandered?" and so commonly threw out many cases alleging gerrymandering because it couldn't be proven. But recently scientists have come up with mathematical/computational measures, and now courts have typically been saying "ok, using those computational/mathematical measures, the district is badly gerrymandered. Redraw it."

                  Districts in my country are drawn by an independent non-partisan body, so they don't get gerrymandered. And my country's MMP voting system means that the district boundaries are largely unimportant as a person's vote for a party is more important politically than their vote for their local district candidate. It's probably constitutionally difficult to implement MMP in the US, however, and I would therefore suggest a multi-winner version of STV for the US (which we use here in local elections) - it would also make the gerrymandering of districts largely irrelevant due to how it works.

                  To use STV you'd combine 2-4 congressional districts, then in the election in the bigger district all the voters vote by ranking the candidates in order of preference 1,2,3... (they don't have to rank them all and can stop any time) and the algorithm then tells you the 2-4 winning candidates in that district who then all get elected as representatives of the district. Unlike plurality voting, the STV algorithm is not a majority-rules algorithm and in a divided district the algorithm will produce winners that most proportionally match the different voting blocs in the district - e.g. a 3 winner district that has 65% Republican voters and 35% Dem voters, will elect 2 Republicans and 1 Dem; a district that has 30% libertarian voters, 40% Republican voters, and 30% Dem voters, will elect a libertarian, a Republican, and Democrat. It is a good algorithm for electing minor party candidates, and a voter loses nothing at all by putting as #1 on their voting ticket a candidate with no chance as the algorithm will spot that candidate has no chance and use the voter's #2 listed preference instead, and then if the voter's #2 listed preference has no chance (or is already one of the winners who has some excess votes), it looks at their #3 preference etc.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                    Another hypothetical purley "not gerrymandered" concept would be to randomly assign each person in the state to a virtual district. There's no borders, and in essence a state would have a number of state-wide elections equal to their rep count, with the voters being randomly assigned. This means each virtual district would have a proportion of voters nearly identical to the statewide distribution. The outcome of which would be, in all likelihood, that virtually all reps would end up with the party that has the majority in the state.
                    Generally people think "proportional representation" is a desirable outcome in a voting system. i.e. if 60% of people in the state are Republican, then 60% of the elected representatives ought to be Republican. If your proposed system would make ~100% of the elected Republicans Republican in such a situation, that's probably an undesirable system.

                    The MMP system in my country enforces proportional representation, by having people cast a party vote in addition to their district vote. Firstly the district representatives are elected from the district vote, then the proportions of them are corrected to match the party vote (via the addition of further representatives that the parties themselves choose). So if the state votes 60%-40% Reps to Dems, then the Reps will have 60% of the total seats in the state assembly even if Dems won 60% of districts, because the Republican party would be allowed to add extra representatives (from a list public before the election) to fix the proportions. This basically makes a person's party vote more important than their district vote, because whichever party gets more party votes will have more representatives and win the election, whereas the district vote only affects the details of whether it's that party's candidate in a district that gets elected of the person from that same party's extra-representative list (and they may be the same person, because nothing stops the party having district candidates on its party list and generally it does). This is quite a minor-party-friendly system, as a party can win seats just by reaching some required threshold on the party vote (e.g. 5% of the total vote) even if it has no winning district candidates. This system reliably gives seats to 5-7 parties in my country, meaning nearly all governments are coalition governments (multiple parties have to work together to have a majority and pass legislation).

                    As I mentioned in the previous post, (multi-winner-district) STV is probably an easier system to implement in the US. It doesn't enforce proportionality like MMP does. But it does tend towards having outcomes that are proportional, so any attempt to gerrymander the districts its used in is largely irrelevant.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                      Generally people think "proportional representation" is a desirable outcome in a voting system. i.e. if 60% of people in the state are Republican, then 60% of the elected representatives ought to be Republican. If your proposed system would make ~100% of the elected Republicans Republican in such a situation, that's probably an undesirable system.

                      The MMP system in my country enforces proportional representation, by having people cast a party vote in addition to their district vote. Firstly the district representatives are elected from the district vote, then the proportions of them are corrected to match the party vote (via the addition of further representatives that the parties themselves choose). So if the state votes 60%-40% Reps to Dems, then the Reps will have 60% of the total seats in the state assembly even if Dems won 60% of districts, because the Republican party would be allowed to add extra representatives (from a list public before the election) to fix the proportions. This basically makes a person's party vote more important than their district vote, because whichever party gets more party votes will have more representatives and win the election, whereas the district vote only affects the details of whether it's that party's candidate in a district that gets elected of the person from that same party's extra-representative list (and they may be the same person, because nothing stops the party having district candidates on its party list and generally it does). This is quite a minor-party-friendly system, as a party can win seats just by reaching some required threshold on the party vote (e.g. 5% of the total vote) even if it has no winning district candidates. This system reliably gives seats to 5-7 parties in my country, meaning nearly all governments are coalition governments (multiple parties have to work together to have a majority and pass legislation).

                      As I mentioned in the previous post, (multi-winner-district) STV is probably an easier system to implement in the US. It doesn't enforce proportionality like MMP does. But it does tend towards having outcomes that are proportional, so any attempt to gerrymander the districts its used in is largely irrelevant.
                      That gets to the point though. You kind of have to know what the goal of not gerrymandered really is.

                      I know alot of people do want that "proportional representation", due to it's mirroring of the population. But that doesn't actually mean it makes sense given the US's voting rules. As I said, a random assignment to virtual district is purely non-gerrymandered, and would give a result that would be heavily disagreed with. On the flip side, if we artificially ensured that vote happened, by caging, cracking, and packing votes into a set number of districts designed to automatically fill the quota, there would also be outrage.

                      So, what they want is to have an artificially built, open system, that magically provides proportional representation...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post
                        I know alot of people do want that "proportional representation", due to it's mirroring of the population. But that doesn't actually mean it makes sense given the US's voting rules.
                        Perhaps the US should change its voting rules then? My country did.

                        We used to use the same plurality-vote system as the US uses, and due to widespread dissatisfaction we had a referendum and changed to MMP. This has been universally viewed as a big improvement - though there's plenty of people who are critics of the details of the MMP system, I don't think I've ever heard single person, commentator, or politician here express the view that the plurality system was better. Though I think the multi-winner STV big-districts system is probably better than MMP.

                        So, what they want is to have an artificially built, open system, that magically provides proportional representation...
                        That seems a reasonable/sensible goal.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CivilDiscourse View Post

                          That gets to the point though. You kind of have to know what the goal of not gerrymandered really is.

                          I know alot of people do want that "proportional representation", due to it's mirroring of the population. But that doesn't actually mean it makes sense given the US's voting rules. As I said, a random assignment to virtual district is purely non-gerrymandered, and would give a result that would be heavily disagreed with. On the flip side, if we artificially ensured that vote happened, by caging, cracking, and packing votes into a set number of districts designed to automatically fill the quota, there would also be outrage.

                          So, what they want is to have an artificially built, open system, that magically provides proportional representation...
                          A random assignment to virtual district would match one type of gerrymandering:

                          "District-packing is not the only way to gain a partisan advantage, of course. In a state where one party usually wins, the dominant party might try to spread out Democrats and Republicans evenly across many districts, thus making districts that are a political replica of the state as a whole—and freezing out the minority." -- source

                          What we don't want is a mapping of districts designed by one party that provides a significant advantage to that party. And there are ways to detect that, as shown in the article just linked.

                          Of course, it's conceivable that a party could give itself a slight advantage in a way that would be hard to prove. But I don't think we should have to accept the egregious cases just because we can't cover every case.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The Wisconsin State Assembly in 2018 was a particularly egregious example. Dems won all state-wide races in the 2018 Wisconsin elections, and won the majority of the total votes for State Assembly seats statewide. But due to gerrymandering of the districts, the Republicans won a supermajority of seats in the State Assembly despite Dems winning more total votes in these races state-wide.

                            Democracy is not really working at all if a party winning a majority of votes results in a supermajority for the losing party.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                              The Wisconsin State Assembly in 2018 was a particularly egregious example. Dems won all state-wide races in the 2018 Wisconsin elections, and won the majority of the total votes for State Assembly seats statewide. But due to gerrymandering of the districts, the Republicans won a supermajority of seats in the State Assembly despite Dems winning more total votes in these races state-wide.

                              Democracy is not really working at all if a party winning a majority of votes results in a supermajority for the losing party.
                              I turn around and say, if you are going to fight against it, you have to define the goal. Then you have to defend that goal.

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