Redistricting and Barney's Version
Martin G. Evans
It was sad to hear of Barney Frank's retirement from politics. He has been a reliable liberal voice in the house for over 30 years.
It was even sadder to hear his complaints about the Massachusetts redistricting results.
For the first time in a generation, the Redistricting process in Massachusetts was open and transparent. Meetings were held by the Joint Committee on Redistricting across the state so that ordinary people could provide their fine-grained input about where sensible boundaries might be drawn. Common Cause even held a contest so that individual citizens could design maps using publicly available (at no cost) on-line software. The results can be seen here: http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=7751111
The Redistricting Committee had to consider several important constraints:
• Districts had to be of equal size
• Districts had to fulfill the Commonwealth's obligations under Federal law
• Districts as far as possible should be:
• not split other political divisions (e.g., towns or cities)
• keep communities of interest together
Finally, in a perfect world, districts should not reflect the preferences of the incumbents
Frank is reported as saying that “If the district had been substantially similar, I would have felt obligated to run again.”
This year, with Massachusetts having lost a Congressional seat, it was impossible to create districts that were substantially similar to those designed a decade ago. In the process, legislators and common people alike had the chance to argue for their preferred district boundaries.
This year the Committee did a good job of meeting the formal criteria
This year, these new districts give the public a chance to chose their Representatives rather than fulfilling the old cliché: “The Representatives choosing the voters they prefer.”
Gerrymandering is dead in Massachusetts..