controversial) reform proposals is the idea of putting redistricting in the hands of a non-partisan
panel of retired judges. However, even some commentators who dislike
gerrymandering are concerned that this reform might lead to “Arniemandering” — that is, giving the governor
too much control over the outcome (by picking judges who agree with his biases).
Personally, I think such fears are
overblown, though not entirely unfounded. Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Rather than trying to micromanage the process, why not simply state the desired
criteria that redistricting should satisfy, and choose the one that best meets
those criteria? Let the legislature, governor, academics, citizens — heck,
anyone who wants to — submit a plan; as long as we have fair, unbiased criteria
for determining the winner, it doesn’t matter where it came from, only that it
reflects the nature of the population rather than the desires of
I’ve been discussing this
idea of objective (re)districting with my friends on the
election-methods mailing list. Its not perfect, but it should produce much
better outcomes than leaving districting in the hands of politicians, which to
me is well worth the price of learning a little math. Let me
know what you think.