Why is it so hard for state legislatures to draw fair legislative districts?
The simple answer is politics. Gerrymandered districts are contributing to many of our state and federal problems. Because it isn’t just whether a district will remain in the Democrat or Republican column but also the protection of incumbents and the mistaken belief that there should be Black and Hispanic majority districts.
The recent Supreme Court Alabama case was, in my estimation, probably the right call. The court threw out the map. It boiled down to whether there should be more Black House districts. While the Voting Rights Act promises that everyone has a right to vote…does it also promise that Black voters can only be represented by Black Congressmen?
The problem with gerrymandered districts is that entire cities and counties end up with state and federal districts that do very well for the political parties and incumbents but not so good for the rest of us.
A prime example of this is the NY 10th district. I lived in that district for many years. It covered Chelsea, some of the Upper West Side and half of Greenwich Village. But with the latest revision, it is known as the “Jerrymandered” District to favor current Congressman Jerry Nadler. It snakes down the far westside of Manhattan across to Brooklyn and tries to keep Jewish neighborhoods together to elect a Jewish Congressman. (See Map)
This is not how we should draw legislative districts. Legislative districts should be compact and represent entire neighborhoods, cities, and counties whenever possible. There should not be artificial dividing lines to save seats for incumbents, parties, or races.