When a fellow CNN correspondent asked their own Dana Bash what were the underlying causes of the nation’s partisan gridlock, Bash replied, “Three things: Redistricting. Redistricting. And, redistricting.”
Congress, let’s get it right. First off, Congressional Districts are under the purvey of federal, not state, law because the constitution says:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The …’but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations,’… means that the federal government, not the states, has control over federal elections. The U.S. House of Representatives is a part of the Federal Government. By extension, the role of establishing U.S. Congressional Districts falls to Congress.
For the good reason of keeping states from turning some of their citizens into second-class citizens as far too many of them trying to do at this very time. Each and every US citizen has the same rights, the same entitle. Period. None of the states should be allowed to deny a US citizen their franchise.
To begin: Every state is divided into county-like administrative districts. These districts are very stable. None of the 3,243 were originally, nor are now, duck or pterodactyl shaped. Almost all are seats of local governance with a Sheriff, Courthouse, District Attorney, Superintendent of Schools, … all of whom are elected to office by the county’s residents. Been that way since forever. A sound foundation to build on.
Let it be that while a county may consist of multiple Congressional Districts; no county can be split amongst Congressional Districts outside of that county. It shall be legal for counties with large populations to be accorded two or more Congressional Districts within the county per the latest US Census data. It shall be illegal for any parts of a county to be in a Congressional District outside that county; for one part of a county to be part of one Congressional District and another part of the same county to be in another Congressional District outside that county.
In less densely populated counties, every resident thereof would be represented in the US Congress by the same Congressperson. More densely populated counties may be home to one or more cities or towns. Most have long been divided into precincts, voting districts, or polling districts. These should be subject to the same rules as those for the less densely populated counties. That is: None can be split amongst Congressional Districts outside that county. Every resident of a precinct, voting district, or polling district thereof would be represented in the US Congress by the same Congressperson.
The drawing of voting Districts should never have been in the hands of politicians. Similar rules to those proposed herein should apply to districting for state representatives within the individual states. The granting to the states this right allows them to deprive their citizens of their franchise; was one of the original sins.
A map of the Michigan Congressional Districts is in this article. Berren County split between 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. I raise this as I do not understand this sentence(s) from your post, paragraph below:
It would appear your comments would make the split of a county illegal? Just asking . . .
Yeah. What do you think?
Cook County (Chicago) has multiple Congressional Districts which overlap other counties. I am puzzled by your one sentence which appears to say a county can not be split and it could consist of multiple congressional districts within county borders. I do not believe such is possible given the limitation of the numbers of Congressional Representatives which have an average of ~700,000 voters each although Wyoming has one Rep for ~486,000 constituents.
It would seem to me a Congressional Representative shall have at most 486,000 constituents to give each state the same representation as Wyoming. The districts are too big and consequently under represented when compared to Wyoming.
But then, who am I?
Massachusetts has fourteen remaining counties, ranging from 1.6m population Middlesex down to 14k population Nantucket. About half of them have had their governments “abolished.”
Counties are no basis for division of anything. They’re outdated relics of the colonial era.
“Counties are no basis for division of anything. They’re outdated relics of the colonial era.”
I would not agree with that statement. They do provide a degree of representation at a local level, the same as precincts and townships do which make up the counties. If everything went to the state level. not much would get done. It is the politics which make things difficult and cause a county not to be effective.
In large states, as in the West, counties probably make more sense than they do in New England states, which except for Maine, are about as large as counties in those western states. But quaint ‘colonial’ traditions persist, perhaps. Also reflects higher population densities in the North East than in much of the rest of the country.
The U.S. state of Massachusetts has 14 counties, though eight of these fourteen county governments were abolished between 1997 and 2000.
Mismanagement of Middlesex County‘s public hospital in the mid-1990s left that county on the brink of insolvency, and in 1997 the Massachusetts legislature stepped in by assuming all assets and obligations of the county. …
They are still considered ‘counties’ however.
Some county functions remain (probate, houses of corrections, etc.)
The MA legislature did this to reduce administrative costs. County guv’mint did in most cases not have enough revenue to survive.
And as I would say:
Some things are better left to smaller areas of population to decide as opposed to States and sometimes even Counties. Hospitals certainly are not one of them.
Counties and townships can tax by having referendums on the tax and the reasons for it. Our township, of which I was the Vice Chair of the Planning Commission of, passed a road millage as the Republican led County and State would not suggest or allow. The 18,000 residents overwhelmingly approved the road millage.
I enjoyed beating up the useless county commissioners with my pie charts. Meanwhile, the Republican controlled legislature will not allow the governor to use Covid funds unless she surrenders certain things.
All of this is away from the central question I put to Ken, can congressional districts cut up counties to achieve a goal? Illinois appears to be gerrymandered and 538 says Maryland is gerrymandered. This would play against what I believe Ken is saying,
Redistricting maps explained
NY Times – Nov 7, 2021
Redistricting is, of course, ‘the redrawing of the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts. It happens every 10 years, after the census, to reflect the changes in population.’ …
Obviously, some states gain Congressional seats, while others loose them.
Incumbent Congressman lose their seats. They fight to retain seats in different districts. New Congressmen are
anointedelected, usually coming out of state legislatures. Opportunities are created.
It can be quite chaotic, and a test of their wiliness. Many Congressmen came out of state legislatures and presumably still have pals there. Democracy, per se, probably doesn’t have much to do with the process. No doubt, politics does.
Before the last Virginia redistricting for the US Congress then VA’s 3rd district really was shaped like a salamander. Now that was clearly more classical than revolutionary for the latter day Jim Crow South.