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Electoral Strategy

Steve Sack
copy; Steve Sack

To be honest, I don’t really fault the Republicans for doing these things. After all, we know how to get rid of things like gerrymandering. And our founding fathers didn’t even guarantee the vote to a majority of US citizens (women, slaves, non-landowners, and others), and for some reason set election day to be a weekday day (and didn’t make it a holiday).

If we really want to make good on the promise of “one person, one vote” we need to do something about it.



  1. Jon wrote:

    One way to fight gerrymandering is high voter turnout. Gerrymandering works when voter turnout is low, lining voting districts based on population as opposed to turnout. When turnout is high, gerrymandering either fails or at best represents districts correctly.

    People who don’t bother to vote, are not entitled to complain about the results of their not voting.

    Voting by mail, on the other hand, has become very effective. It’s possible to vote absentee even if you are only a little sure you will not be able to be home on election day. Voting by mail can be made more convenient than voting in person, and there is as much of a chance of ballots getting counted correctly when voting by mail as when voting in person.

    Allowing political parties to get in the way of voting is silly, especially when there are so many ways to get around even the most creative obstacles BUT there must be the desire and motivation to get around those obstacles.

    Maybe it’s the “entitlement” mentality but, again, people who don’t bother to vote are not entitled to complain about the results of their not voting.

    Monday, October 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  2. wildwood wrote:

    I was complaining today that in St. Louis County, it’s not all that easy to find out what’s on the ballot until you show up at the polls. I think everyone should get a sample ballot in the mail a week or two before an election. We have judges up for a vote and I’m going to have to first try and find a ballot, and then try and figure out what part of the ballot applies to me, and then start researching the things that do apply to me. I should not have to do anything but the research part and of course the voting part. Voting responsibly is a lot more work than it needs to be and I’m pretty sure that’s on purpose.

    Monday, October 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Jon, simple mathematics shows that gerrymandering works very well even considering voter turnout. Any time voters are divided into districts with the boundaries controllable by politicians, gerrymandering will work because of the winner-take-all nature of our elections. All politicians have to do is spread out sympathetic voters so that there is a small majority of them in as many districts as possible (which concentrates voters for the opposing party into as few districts as possible).

    For example, lets say there are 4 districts, and the voters are evenly distributed between two parties. Statistically, both parties should carry 2 districts each, leading to a tie. But if you can put as many of the opposing party’s voters as possible (half of them) into a single district, and then evenly divide the rest between the remaining 3 districts (1/6th each), then your party will consistently carry 3 districts to your opponent’s one district (where you put half of their voters).

    In three districts you will have *twice* as many voters in your party as in the opposing party, so they would have to turn out twice as many voters as you do in order to overcome your gerrymandered advantage.

    Likewise, it is possible to take a situation where one party should consistently win less than a majority of districts and by gerrymandering, make it so they consistently win a majority.

    The absolute turnout doesn’t matter, it is only how many more you can turn out compared to your opponent. Voter suppression helps too if it affects voters for the opposing party more than for yours.

    Monday, October 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  4. IL-08 wrote:

    Gerrymandering is not solely owned by the Republicans, it is used by whatever party runs the state after the 10 year census is completed and redistricting takes place due to demographic shifts and addition or subtraction of seats in the House. Here in IL, the Democrats ran the statehouse in 2010 and one result was district IL-08 which was represented by the tea party dingus Joe Walsh was redrawn to the point that we are now represented by Tammy Duckworth, quite the improvement I might admit, but far to the other side of the political spectrum, mostly due to redistricting and not a sudden increase in voter IQ.

    Bottom line is that the party that wins the state elections prior to a census gets to draw that congressional districts and does it how it fits them best. The Republicans threw huge amounts (for the time) of money into state elections in 2010 and it being a Republican wave year, resulted in the gerrymandered districts that we see today. We are stuck with them until 2020, when I predict an enormous amount of money will be put into state elections, and whomever wins will control the House through 2030.

    Unless we do what California did….

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink
  5. Jon wrote:

    All correct, IK, and the point, still, is that what we need more than anything else is higher voter turnout to overcome the results of current gerrymandering and MAKE CHANGES. If the person/party we want STILL doesn’t get enough votes to win, then it may be because that’s the way democracy works.

    Gerrymandering, for better or worse, is here to stay. The only thing any of us has real control over is, voting or not voting.

    Does voting intelligently require effort? Yes. Does it require us to educate ourselves? Yes. Are there obstacles? Yes. Should we allow any of those things to keep us from voting? HELL NO!

    If we DO allow the very real obstacles to keep us from voting, then the people who put them in place have won, and THAT is not acceptable.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink