Thursday, October 27, 2016

Common Cause Restoring Voter Choice Report

The manipulation of Legislative Districts for political advantage in the United States is older than the United States itself. In 1788, the year before the Constitution was ratified, Patrick Henry convinced the Virginia Legislature to alter James Madison’s Congressional District to favor James Monroe. Madison won anyway. More than 20 years later, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry infamously approved State Senate Districts drawn to ensure Democratic-Republican control of the Bay State and, as a result, gave us the term gerrymandering.

These historical giants left the political stage long ago, but gerrymandering lives.

Gerrymandering skews Democracy in many different ways. This report focuses on one particular effect: diminished voter choice. The most effective Gerrymanders slice and dice communities with surgical precision to make the outcomes of district-wide Elections as predictable and favorable as possible to the Party in power.

In many cases, outcomes are so effectively preordained that competition disappears and voters only see one Major Party on the ballot in November. In the most egregious cases, incumbent protection Gerrymanders result in Districts in which even Major Party Primaries are uncontested. As a result, the Election is over when the filing deadline passes and before a single vote is cast.

This report examines the 2016 Primary and General Elections for Congress and State Legislatures. It concludes that voters in a shocking number of campaigns have been left without choices at the polls this year. In states where Legislators drew maps, voters have fewer choices than in states where maps were drawn by individuals with no personal stake in the outcome. And when voters have real choices on Election Day, our Democracy is strengthened because citizens can hold Elected officials accountable.

CLICK HERE to read the 24 page (PDF) Report.

The report doesn't cover the difficulty for minor and independent candidates to get on the ballot through restrictive ballot access laws.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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