Monday, July 25, 2011

Can Maps Be 'Covertly-Partisan?'

John Eastman and Chuck Bell - two high-profile GOP-leaning election lawyers - wrote a Flash Report piece last Friday.  Here's the summary:
The Citizens Redistricting Commission process has gone seriously awry, hijacked by covert Democrat and leftist partisans who have violated open meeting, public records and conflict of interest laws, playing a “shell game” with draft district maps that likely will cement Democrat 2/3ds control of the State Legislature when finalized.  Proposition 11 provided a remedy – Republican commissioners can defeat the final district maps if three Republican commissioners simply vote no.  Then, redistricting can be conducted by the State Supreme Court which did an exemplary job in 1974 and 1991 in creating truly fair and impartially drawn districts.
They argue that the California Republic can only be saved from the devious, shadowy hands of Democratic cartographers by a GOP-led block of the vote to adopt the CRC's plans.  This GOP block would not signify the Commission's failure, rather, "it would be an acknowledgement that the gravitational pull of partisanship and leftwing ideology in the Redistricting Commission process can be resisted by partisan Commissioners voting to deadlock the Commission’s attempt to draw overtly- or covertly-partisan or ideological district plans, allowing the Supreme Court to perform its designated constitutional role."

So, to repeat, if one partisan set of commissioners blocks (bloc voting!) the insidious actions of another partisan set of commissioners, it is a win for non-partisans everywhere. Solid.

Also - this section heading strikes me as amusing: "Commission Process Was Hijacked by the Left & the Commission[.]"  The Commission was hijacked by . . . itself?

And: "The Commission’s selection process favored educated elites, mostly with left-wing backgrounds."  Well, shoot, if the right-leaning would-be commissioners weren't well-educated, how is that the left's fault?  Also, Eastman and Bell seem critical of the commissioner selection process having favored applicants with advanced educational backgrounds.  Said the two lawyers. With advanced educational backgrounds.  And will the GOP never tire of the party that advances the cause of less-education for all?  How do they say these things with a straight face?  This process is damn complicated. No matter how smart these people are, they still had to retain outside specialists (which defeats the entire point, but hey, whatever).  I don't want idiots creating my electoral maps. Sure, formal education and intelligence (or smarts) don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, but it's as useful a cue as is usually available.

And back to this notion of covert maps:
Commission’s Maps Are Unfair, Covertly-Partisan Gerrymanders
Were the objections to the Commission’s activities limited to process only, there would be an insufficient basis to urge Republican commissioners to take what may seem a drastic step – to block the Commission’s maps.  However, the Commission’s likely product, the maps, appears to be unfair and partisan.  Even Democrat redistricting effort Paul Mitchell has concluded that the Commission’s districting plans are likely to secure 2/3ds Democrat majorities in the State Senate and State Assembly.  Republican redistricting expert Dr. Tony Quinn agrees. The analysis that accompanied the Commission’s June 10th release of draft maps suggested that the commissioners had drawn districts likely to offer some competitive districts and no clear partisan tilt.  This promise has faded as the commissioners have continued to tinker with the draft maps, with each draft veering more in favor of Democrats
Dear Eastman & Bell: either it's covert or it's apparent to everyone. It can't be both. Here, let me fix that section header for you:
Commission’s Maps Are Unfair, Covertly-Partisan Gerrymanders
Better? 

I suppose their bottom line is that Partisanship in defense of Partisanship is no vice.

But I'm still waiting for an explanation of how a map based on public data can take any sort of covert action.  If you can explain to me how that's possible, I'd love to hear it.

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