Whoa!Canada

laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Redistricting Roulette

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back to #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the twenty-first article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series 

the_gerry-mander

The “Gerry-mander” political cartoon by Elkanah Tisdale (1771-1835) published March 26, 1812 in the Boston Gazette,.

Wiktionary tells us to “gerrymander” is:

v. To divide a geographic area into voting districts in such a way as to give an unfair advantage to one party in an election.

v. To draw dividing lines for other types of districts in an unintuitive way to favor a particular group or for other perceived gain.

Clearly this method was not undetected, as the weird outline of the electoral district cheat devised by Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry in 1812 was ridiculed in the press. The district retained its shape, but Governor Gerry lost his job.  And was, of course, immortalized by the term.

Canada attempts to prevent gerrymandering by employing (hopefuilly) non-partisan organizations to set district boundaries, but how effective this is up for debate.

Gerrymandering can be effective in winner-take-all systems like First Past The Post, a large number of voters fail to secure representation.

In order to reduce the importance of the boundary commissions in deciding our government, we need to abandon the idea that each constituency should elect one MP.

Proportional electoral systems like the Single Transferable Vote elect multiple MPs from bigger constituencies so that parties that get a fifth of the vote across five constituencies now, would get 1 out of 5 MPs from a new merged constituency.

Rather than trying to divide a town or county into equal-sized lumps, the whole town could be represented by a team of MPs who actually reflect the variety of political opinion in that town.

— Doug Cowan, Electoral Reform Society
The Return of the Gerrymander

In systems where parties are represented in proportion to the votes they receive, Gerrymandering doesn’t make much (if any) difference.  That’s the thing: do we want a system that can be gamed by the placement of boundaries?  Or are we trying to achieve representation for all.

I’m for representation.


Image Credits
The Gerrymander” by Elkanah Tisdale was  published in the Boston Gazette, March 26, 1812.

Gerrymander Wheel GIF by the UK Electoral Reform Society was inspired by the Proportional Representation Society of Australia (prsa.org.au)

back to #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)

Proportional Representation Series So Far:• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
 Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

 and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 4, 2016 at 9:00 am

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