Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Analytical Snack Food

Heather Barbour passes on this USC California Policy Institute (tagline: bridging research and policy communities - frightening that they're that separate, no? and they aren't very googleable, so are they trustworthy?) "research synthesis" on redistricting commissions. Because we love meta-analysis, here's the pdf. The report highlights three major findings:
  1. Most redistricting commissions are not truly "independent." Commissioners are usually legislators or legislative appointees.
  2. As a result, most commission-produced plans are not significantly different from those produced by legislatures. The great majority appear to be partisan or bi-partisan gerrymanders.
  3. The commission proposal supported by the Governor and on the November 8 special election ballot is unique in several respects. Most importantly, it entails significantly greater separation of commissioners from elected officials.

I will add that I don't necessarily think the legislature and everything related to it is absolutely incapable of good-government redistricting - nor are judges the be-all-and-end-all of non-partisan, disinterested reason. And there's still that mid-decade thing in Ted Costa's measure. Oh, and the Ted Costa thing in Ted Costa's measure.

Still . . . .


Anonymous said...

People like to think that retired Judges will be non partisan, but as can be seen in Montana, they are usually every bit as partisan as legislators. Part of the problem is that most of the judges who take on the job are those that are interested in politics. The other major problem is that even those that are nonpartisan will often buy into arguments from a clever lawyer and create districts that match those arguments. In some states, Maldef and groups like that have literally drawn the districts and in others, Judges have tried to enforce their own agendas by doing things like refusing to consider unregistered voters in their decision. It gets to be ridiculous and in most states, large numbers of voters are already trying to get rid of the system (which is relatively new). Overall it is a bad idea.

cd said...

"like refusing to consider unregistered voters in their decision"

That is illegal. Period.

As for the rest of your argument - you need to read the Prop 77 text.

There are many checks on the selection process - so the eagerist beaver of a judge really has no guarantee of making the cut.

Most judges, generally, by the way, are going to be interested in politics. They might, however, still not care about politics.

Also - as for arguments from clever attorneys - they can be as clever as they want, but substantive discussions will have to take place in public pursuant to applicable open meeting laws - so public attention should help cure that problem. the measure includes specific language requiring safeguards against ex parte communication.

Not to mention the (somewhat problematic, but safeguardy as it comes) provision for voter ratification of the special masters' plan . . . .

You know what - we're moving this topic up to it's own post now . . .