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Some Thoughts on Redistricting Reform in Ohio. Tom Brunell University of Texas at Dallas. Ohio Redistricting .

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Some Thoughts on Redistricting Reform in Ohio

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some thoughts on redistricting reform in ohio
Some Thoughts on Redistricting Reform in Ohio

Tom Brunell

University of Texas at Dallas

ohio redistricting
Ohio Redistricting
  • Representational Fairness is the most important part of any reform. Using the proposed text of the Voters First proposal would be a great start. “Balance number of districts to closely correspond to preferences of voters of Ohio.”
  • No state, to my knowledge, has anything like this. This paragraph, properly instituted, solves many problems.
representational fairness
Representational Fairness
  • Measuring partisan balance in state is key factor.
  • Proposed using statewide elections. This is a good idea.
  • Will have to have some selection criterion, for instance do you count blowout elections in average?
  • OPOV, contiguity, VRA and fairness are all you need.
items that should change
Items That Should Change
  • Ohio’s restrictions on when a plan ought to keep counties or municipalities whole is really stringent. I would recommend doing away with this requirement.
  • Counties and cities are governmental units designed to deliver public services, not communities of interest per se.
  • When they are communities of interest it involves parochial issues – money, etc.
communities of interest
Communities of Interest
  • Look at 2012 presidential election by county.
  • A handful are 70-30 or so.
  • Most are far closer to 50-50 break between the two major candidates.
  • Counties are NOT cohesive communities of interest.
  • Don’t be constrained by geography, communities of interest are ideological.
population deviations
Population Deviations
  • For legislative districts – I recommend limiting population deviations to either zero, or as close to zero as possible. It’s the only non-arbitrary cut point.
  • There are no really good reasons to allow plus or minus 5% deviations.
  • Deviations are easily used for partisan advantage.
  • One person, one vote is critical
  • I am not a fan of using commissions to draw districts. The smaller commission with members appointed by elected officials is better than the Voters First model.
  • Redistricting is political and I’d rather get stabbed in the chest, than stabbed in the back.
  • When elected officials draw maps, we know the motivations. When citizen commissions do it, everyone wonders “was it fair?”
  • Virtually everyone agrees we need more competition – I do not.
  • Competitive elections maximize the number of losing voters and fundamentally hurt the ability of a representative to represent his/her constituents.
  • Competition and partisan fairness are incompatible principles.
hypothetical redistricting
Hypothetical Redistricting

Imagine a state with 4 Congressional Districts

Exactly half the state is Republican and the other half is Democratic.

Two “Ideal Types”of districts.

what should the outcome look like
What should the outcome look like?
  • The state has 4 seats and is half D and half R, there is only 1 right outcome: 2 Red seats and 2 Blue seats.
  • So let’s look at how the competitive scheme works in practice.
  • Assume each district really is perfectly competitive and the result is determined randomly, like a coin-flip.
coin flip districts
Coin Flip Districts
  • Republicans win 4 – 6.25%
  • Rep win 3, Dem win 1 – 25%
  • Rep win 2, Dem win 2 – 37.5%
  • Dem win 3, Rep win 1 – 25%
  • Democrats win 4 – 6.25%
competitive elections do not lead to good representation
Competitive Elections do not lead to Good Representation
  • Two-thirds of the time (62.5%) a plan with all competitive districts gets the WRONG answer (i.e. unrepresentative delegations).
  • Even when it does yield fair outcomes, it unnecessarily puts half the population in a district in which they don’t like their representative.
  • Losing voters like their representative less, and they have a lower trust in government relative to winning voters.
competitive elections maximize number of losers
Competitive Elections Maximize Number of Losers
  • SMD & wasted votes.
  • The more competitive the district the more losers you get.
  • The more competitive the district, the less of a community of interest it is.
  • Competition maximizes losing voters and minimizes the ability to represent a district well.
  • Neither of which we ought to be doing on purpose.
ideologically packed districts1

Ideologically Packed Districts

This method gets the right answer EVERYTIME, and voters are well represented

  • Competitive districts should be called “districts that usually lead to non-proportional outcomes and needlessly leave many voters poorly represented”
  • Ideologically packed districts should be called “fair redistricting” or “proportional redistricting”.
the alleged benefits of competitive elections
The (Alleged) Benefits of Competitive Elections
  • It increases “Responsiveness”
  • It is impossible to represent all the constituents
  • MC will try harder to please her 51 percent, but is this representation?
  • Competitive districts allow us to “throw the bums out”
  • We do want elected officials to be worried about getting reelected, but primary elections can take care of this.
what is representation
What is Representation?
  • Lots of definitions (substantive, descriptive etc.)
  • I think it boils down to “did my representative vote the way I would have voted?”
  • Competitive districts make it less likely that voters feel well represented.
competitive districts bad representation
Competitive Districts = Bad Representation
  • Drawing districts to maximize competitiveness is no guarantee that there will be competitiveness.
  • Regardless of the presence of competition, drawing districts this way is BAD for representation.
  • Overemphasizes votes of swing voters.
an alternative approach
An alternative approach
  • Draw districts packed with like-minded partisans.
  • Impossible to draw 100-0, but something like 80-20 is possible.
  • As long as both parties are “packed” at the same level, we get proportional outcomes.
  • Primary elections will be pivotal.
  • SCOTUS already “blessed” this approach (Gaffney v. Cummings).
thank you
Thank you
  • Questions?

Democrats have packed R’s in districts 1 and 2, and cracked them in districts 3-5, thus wasting many of their votes. R’s have 60 percent of the vote, with 40 percent of the seats.

  • Redistricting not the chief culprit.
  • If the voters are polarized, the representatives should be too.
  • What’s wrong with polarization? We used to have lots of overlap between parties.
  • People complained, wanted “responsible parties”. Now we have them and we complain about them.