Congressional Democrats' first bill aims to end gerrymandering, increase voter registration and rein in campaign finance

HR1, the first bill that the new Democratic House of Representatives will vote on, is omnibus legislation that takes on some of the most pervasive scourges of representative democracy: vote suppression, oligarchic campaign financing and gerrymandering. Read the rest

Jewelry in the shape of gerrymandered US congressional districts

Gerrymander Jewelry: charms in the shape of America's most gerrymandered district; you don't have to live in Michigan's 14th, Texas's 35th or Ohio's first to rock one of these. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Missouri voters kill the state's anti-union law with a massively successful ballot initiative

Many of today's "red" states have historically had strong trade union movements -- think of Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin -- but after Citizens United opened the floodgates to dark money from the super-rich in state politics, the states saw their legislatures fill up with ideologue Republicans who passed anti-union laws designed to weaken labor and allow employers to pay their workers less, cut their benefits, fire them more easily, and subject them to less safe, less dignified working conditions. Read the rest

Toronto councillor praises gerrymandering plan to silence "left-leaning" voices in the city

Robbo Mills writes, "Speaking at a press conference at the Provincial Parliament in Queen’s Park on Monday, Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said Premier Doug Ford’s plan to gut Toronto City Council is a good move because it would silence 'left-leaning' voices on council. Read the rest

Why Democratic Socialists aren't afraid to call themselves "Socialist" anymore

For generations, American mainstream politicians have smeared socialist movements by equating them with Stalinism and other forms of authoritarianism, but today, "socialism" is a label more and more people are embracing. Read the rest

A pair of leaked powerpoints reveal the earliest-known evidence of the Republican gerrymandering plan that gave us Trump

David Daley's hugely important 2016 book Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy uses original documents to trace the Republican master gerrymandering plan -- which gave them disproportionate control in several states, allowing them to redraw federal districts to repeat the feat at the national level -- to meetings in 2009; but a pair of leaked Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) powerpoints show that GOP strategists were scheming and fundraising to ensure that their candidates would wield power regardless of popular support at least a year and a half earlier. Read the rest

"The efficiency gap": understanding the math behind a crucial Supreme Court gerrymandering case

Last October, the Supreme Court heard argument in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that has far-reaching implications for the November midterms in 2018; the court is expected to rule next June. Read the rest

Ohio Republicans create winnable electoral districts by siting nonvoting prisons near friendly voters

91% of the prisoners in Ohio are in Republican districts: they aren't allowed to vote, but they are counted in the census, creating winnable districts with tiny voting populations that would otherwise be included with large groups of nearby Democratic voters. Read the rest

As the 2020 census catastrophe draws closer, it isn't getting any better

The Constitution requires the government to undertake a census every ten years, and the results of this census are key to everything from drawing up electoral maps to allocating funding to deciding on zoning: what you measure, you treasure. Read the rest

Newly gerrymandered district conveniently includes senator's new house

Let's say you're a state senator, but the house you'd like to own isn't in your district. No problem! Just propose a boundary change to include the new house! Read the rest

John Oliver explains gerrymandering

If there's one thing humans are good at, it's gaming systems. John Oliver goes after the dirty political practice of gerrymandering.

In Pennsylvania, forty-four percent of the voters chose Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives in 2014, but 13 of the 18 districts, more than two-thirds, are represented by Republicans.

In Ohio, about forty percent of the voters chose Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, but 12 out of 16 seats, three-quarters of them, are represented by Republicans.

Those numbers are way out of proportion to what people should expect. You wouldn't accept Neapolitan ice cream that was seventy-five percent strawberry. How is that okay? What perverts voted for this?

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Wisconsin: America's top voting-machine security expert says count was irregular; Fed judge says gerrymandering was unconstitutional

University of Michigan prof J Alex Halderman (previously) is one of America's top experts on voting machine security (see this, for example), and he's issued a joint statement with voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz to the Clinton campaign, advising them to ask for a recount of the Wisconsin votes. Read the rest

What UK Labour members need to do to preserve their right to vote for party leader

On Tuesday, Labour Party power-brokers waited until Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters had left a National Election Committee meeting to introduce a not-on-the-agenda motion that disenfranchised more than 200,000 new party members from voting in the upcoming leadership ballot. Read the rest

How to teach gerrymandering and its many subtle, hard problems

Ben Kraft teaches a unit on gerrymandering -- rigging electoral districts to ensure that one party always wins -- to high school kids in his open MIT Educational Studies Program course. As he describes the problem and his teaching methodology, I learned that district-boundaries have a lot more subtlety and complexity than I'd imagined at first, and that there are some really chewy math and computer science problems lurking in there. Read the rest

Illustrators depictions of gerrymandered maps

"Spawn of Gerrymander" is a series in which some of our favorite illustrators use their talents to help us see the true shape of political mapmaking in the twenty-first century:

Over the course of this week, this series will present graphic visualizations of six gerrymandered U.S. Congressional districts, created by six dynamite illustrators: Joe Alterio, Steve Brodner, Lisa Congdon, Jennifer Daniel, Oliver Munday, and Leif Parsons.

Above and below, Steve Brodner's "Bleeding Liberty" map for Pennsylvania's Seventh Congressional District.

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