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tv   Nick Seabrook One Person One Vote  CSPAN  December 27, 2022 10:14pm-11:17pm EST

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is great conversation today which i hope was uplifting for those listening. thank you. thank you. ask if you are enjoying quick tv sign up for our newsletter is an qr code on the screen. to receive a schedule of upcoming programs, author discussions book festivals and more. both tv every sunday on cspan2 or anytime online television for serious readers. weekends on cspan2 art intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america story and on sunday tvrings you the latest nonfiction boo and authors. funding for cspan2 comes from these television companies and more. including cox. october can be hard. squatting in a diner for internetwork is even harder. that is why we are providing
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lower income students access to affordable internet so homework can just be homework. cox connect to compete. parks and cox along with these television companies support cspan2 as a public service nick seabrook wrote this book one person one vote which is the history of gerrymandering. for some of them are said that he got it right. nick is meant to teach us much more how to pronounce the word. he's looking for something that affects us all intoning relationally ever thought possible. if something is a practice for hundreds and hundreds of i year. all but sitting this room have felt expressly here in wisconsin over the past couple of years. these are the types of events that made me so proud to be able to hand microphone over to somebody i'm going to hand it
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over too nick seabrook. ladies and gentlemen. [applause] quick thankybyb you everybody fr the war wisconsin welcome. this is actually my first time both in madison and in the state of wisconsin. given the state is famous for two of my favorite things in the world of beer and cheese, i have a feeling i'm going to enjoy my time here. the beer and cheese comes after the speaking engagement. it is very important to get this thing is the correct order. unfortunately however wisconsin is also famous for perhaps i should say infamous for something else. that is the topic of my new book one person, one vote. a surprising history of gerrymandering or to give it its original historical pronunciation, gerrymandering in
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america. whenever i talked about the topic of gerrymandering, most frequent questions i get asked by audiences and interviewers is which is the most gerrymandered state in america? i'm today for the first time i can say while standing in that state for the last 12 years or so the answer to that question has been the state of wisconsin. my home state of florida certainly gets an honorable mention. particularly under the recent leadershipam of governor desant. you could also point to examples of blue states where we have seen a particularly bad gerrymandering in recent years. states like new york and illinois are examples of something i think it's a broad and important theme of the book.
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which is that gerrymandering, the manipulation of election district for political gain is not a republican problem for a democratic problem. it is an american problem. and it is quintessentially american it's a problem democracy the world over have experienced, and it was the most part have there are two things i want to highlight from the book talk today. first of those is the gerrymandered origin story. and i think for those of you who may believe that you know where gerrymandering comes from, if you read the book and hopefully i can explain this today as well, i think you will most likely find you are wrong. ndthe origins of gerrymandering
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are both older and more interesting than the legend that gets generally told in most of the history. the second thing i want to talk about is a continuing effect gerrymandering has on our election in states like wisconsin. in states like florida and all over the nation. the major problem with gerrymandering as i see it and i was speaking with the gentleman on this my talk tonight, the fundamental and most function of a representative democracy depends on at least a basic level of electoral responsiveness. but electoral responsiveness what i mean is that people at the very least i need to have the option when they are unhappy
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with the things of representatives and government are doing is throw the bums out and replace them with the new set of representatives that we believe do something d differen. no major harm of gerrymandering is that it severs that link between representatives and the communities whose interest they are supposed to be fulfilling and government. it undermines basic aresponsiveness of the electoral system in a way that prevents voters from holding politicians accountable for the things they do hold their office. and you probably do not need me too tell you that when politicians do not have to worry about reelection, when the party that holds the majority does not have to worry about connecting popular policy. when they know their seats are safe. when they know their majority is
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safe they do not have to keep their fingers on the pulse of public opinion. they are free to use their power and authority to pursue whatever it is or partisan goals they would like to do but are often constrained fromor doing because those things will be unpopular with the electorate. so in addition to the history of gerrymandering this is also a book about the present of gerrymandering. and for reasons i talked about in the book, goal in writing this was to sound the alarm bells. to send out a warning to the american people that their democracy is not safe. this is the kind of warning a lot of people are sending out right now for a variety of different reasons.
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but i think gerrymandering at its core is much more threatening to democratic accountability than any of the other problems that are routinely and commonly identified in our system. i wanter to begin with the orign story of gerrymandering. every good villain of story and preferably that mythology should be shrouded in mystery. i began researching this book i thought i knew quite a bit about the history of gerrymandering. but it turned off there was a much richer and stronger history going back not just to the founding era and the framers of the consultation of going back even for then to the colonial period in further back into
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british antiquities. and so i want to touch a little bit to begin with origin story and grew gerrymandering came from. on wednesday i was participating in the event of the sandra day o'connor institute for american democracy in phoenix. and i had the pleasure to lavish praise on the state of arizona for being among the best in the nation for how they conduct redistricting. and unfortunately as i've already hinted at i do not have good news on the front tonight on the state of wisconsin. no is the news particularly good about my home state of florida either. but gerrymandering always been
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with us in american history the politician of today have a fundamentally different set of tools by which they can manipulate the outcomes of our election. there simply not available even 25 or 30 years ago. the effect of that, because i will talk about a little bit whlater for missing and the results of elections in the states like wisconsin was her fundamentally unrepresentative of a way people actually vote. that is the harm of gerrymandering. the most basic level of functioning democracy as i said is a modicum of responsiveness. gerrymandering while it has
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always been within threatens to undermine that responsiveness and accountability today in a way it has never previously done u.s. history. most accounts of the origin of gerrymandering traced back to an individual who had a very long as impressive in storage career atin american politics. the name eldridge and gary. they pronunciation the pronunciation of his last name of correspondence as the term gerrymandering or because it was announced on the first 50 years the term was inus use, gerrymandering. when asked researching the book i was actually able to uncover the first historical reference to gerrymandering being prompt
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with the soft see as opposed to the original prodigy. this is difficult to do when i come back that far in history we do not have recordings of people saying anything. i set out to look for the earliest possiblee historical reference to how the word was actually pronounced. and i c found that in the transcripts of the constitutional convention of the state of indiana in the mid- ninth century. one of the delegates whose name was john pettit which coincidentally is actually the name of one of b my ancestors proposed a british lady navy lieutenant and privateer. i think privateer is a more politically correct way to say would engage in during his career back in the 1700s. but this delegate, john pettit
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main comments over a debate over proposed clause of the constitution that would have prohibited by then the ubiquitous practice of gerrymandering. he was quoted as saying during the debate criticizing his opponents were constantly gerrymandering the state in maintaining that this was the way the word should be pronounced with a soft g. one of the things i found most surprising when researching the history of this topic was that not only did gerrymandering originate famously was the governor of massachusetts 1812. he had been finally elected to that office after running five
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times without success. and after finally being elected governor of massachusetts he found himself frustrated by divided government. secular veterans held in the state at the time. garrett was a democratic republican. he had aligned himself with the presidencies of thomas jefferson. and then also james mattis. during his first term in office he found himself frustrated by divided government. and he had been elected with these grandiose of policy ideas going to usher in a democratic republican agenda by a state that been previously dominated by his federalist opponents. in the myth of the origin of gerrymandering as gary concocted a scheme which will bring the results of the 1812 massachusetts election.
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i needed to buy drugs state senate district andre at such a that even the federalist were to with the popular vote the democratic republicans would nevertheless capture a majority of the available seats. similar to what happened in a number of recent elections here in wisconsin. so garrett set about drawing the districts. in one district in particular estate senate district in essex county outsidepa of boston was a particularly misshapen as a serpentine district that snaked its way around the borders of the county backing together as many of federalist voters as possible. the idea wasisis that he put ale fatherlessness one district in the democratic republicans could pick up all of the other seats in the county. that was in fact what happened in the subsequent election.
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more citizens in essex county voted for the federalist party then did the democratic republicans. but because of this gerrymander the democratic republicans were nevertheless able to pick up a majority of seats. the origin of the term gerrymander stems from an article that was published in a newspaper called the boston gazette. it probably would not have taken on the historical momentum that it did were it not for the famous cartoon that accompanied that newspaper goal. you have probably seen that cartoon if you google the wordd gerrymander it's pretty much the first image that was always going to come up. i think i hav a version of it if they click back a second on the cover of my book.
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that is a gerrymander cartoon of the state set district and essex county, massachusetts. but what often gets left out of the story visit not only was gerrymandering happening long before elbridge gerry allegedly created this original and essexs county, but gary himself is not responsible to the plan that led to his everlasting historical infamy. that led to his most lasting legacy thing gary and the salamander which is said to resemble. that became attached to this unseemly practice of manipulating districts for political gain. gary had, if you believe his biographer and most of the
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contemporary historical accounts and covered, all suggested gary himself was not especially keen on the plan. he thought it was overly partisan. he thought that it was untoward and nefarious. really kind of went along the because more than that he wanted to get the stuff done that he had been elected to do. getting that done controlling the state legislature. all the original was created by the massachusetts state legislature it was gary's name then became attached to it. so if there's one thing i hope this book does is at least to some extent indicates age historical legacy, who is remembered chiefly for this. you know he went on to service and vice president of the united states under james mattis, even though he was one of the massachusetts delegates to the
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constitutional convention in philadelphia and was extremely influential in the creation of the bill of rights. gary, i think would have made a great presidential candidate as well if he were a younger man. and his age was pretty much the only thing that prevented him from being remembered as james mattis successor as president rather than for this unseemly practice. gary unfortunately passed away when he is serving as vice president under medicine and the rest of course is history. once i realized everything we thought we knew about the origins of gerrymandering was pretty much wrong, i try to find out what was the earliest historical example of gerrymandering are korean. that to me back almost a century
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of 1812 massachusetts 21730s and the colony of north carolina. and it turns gerrymandering was not even in america himself. like me and if you have detected a hint of an accident i was in fact born in great britain. immigrated to the united states to study for my phd in american government. actually earlier this year i became a fully naturalized u.s. citizen. to have written, talk, and research in american almost two decades now, this november will be the first time i actually have an opportunity to vote in one. the last election i voted in was a 2016 brexit referendum.
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and if you've checked in with uk politics recently that one did not go terribly well for us. individual willre make that the case in the buffer should be remembered as the creator of american gerrymandering is actually a british colonial governor violet global burlington to give his name the standard british pronunciation. unfortunately there are known known likenesses of georgia barrington that survived to the present day. which is why he's represented by the anonymous social media account avatar that i have on the screen here. but he was a truly fascinating character. he wasn't individual was not born an aristocrat. but always strive to run the same social circles of the british upper class.
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this is some way responsible for the enormous chip eight had on his shoulder throughout his political career. in the book i going to some of the many colorful and sometimes violent stories that marred the history of his political career. but the thinking is actually in fact not remember for is a creation of american gerrymandering. ironically he was responsible for doing what i have tried in vain i think it's probably too late at this point to introduce the term into the american political. i'm going to keep trying. because this is the guy who this practitioner in fact be named after. i wanted brush colonial governor of north carolina in the 1730s. by the time he got around too
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engaging in the practice of gerrymandering was action on his second stent in that position. there's a very interesting story how i ended up losing and then regaining his job. but at the risk of spoiling it, it involves him threatening to murder the chief justice of the north carolina and assaulting the attorney general with the chair. more on that story in the book. boths mike and gary came in frustrated opposition to israel was receiving from the legislature. the colonial legislatureco north carolina consisting of two houses. perhaps it was made up of appointments and the governor himself british crown. and a lower cost elected by the
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colonists represented their interest. it was the lower house barrington found his himself particular frustrated whispered in a fairly outrageous piece of parliamentary, he forced a bill through the house during the boundaries of theto lower housen the colonists could no longer obstruct his agenda. moving forward, there are even examples of gerrymandering occurring after independence but before the creation of the term in 1812, massachusetts. in particular the first elections listed in new york and in another famous example i talk about in the book as well. an attempt by patrick to prevent his arch nemesis, james mattis, funding elected to the first congress.
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the story ended up only time in u.s. history that to future presidents face offers single state. the candidates were james mattis and james o. spoiler alert medicine and of winning the election despite gerrymander went on to introduce the bill of rightss before the first. congress. one can only imagine how differently u.s. history might have gone had patrick henry been successful at gerrymandering james mattis out of the first congress. so, as most of what i have to say about the history of gerrymandering. but a large part of the book is spent on relating to the most interesting stories gerrymandering that occurred at the 18th, 19th and 20th
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centuries. in particular highlighting how this practice has intersected g influence some of the major events of the u.s. history. including the civil war, the career of presence like abraham lincoln and andrew johnson even civil rights movement as well. what i would like to focus on for my remaining time here today, was gerrymandering as it exists in the 21st century. because there has been a change in the technology, that data, the software, the computing power that canplpl be deployed d service of the manipulation of districts for political purposes. to go back to earlier periods and redistricting was done by pouring over reams of census data. often drawing lines onin the map using pencils and erasers.
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around about the 1970s, the very first computer software decanting v is redrawing of district boundaries. but even then those programs were not sophisticated. they would allow you to analyze what had happened in the last couple of districts dropped based on your best guessen of wt might happen moving forward. and often were gerrymandering didn't have effectsgg on our elections and i certainly do not mean to suggest that gerrymandering was never affected until the present day but it would have effects perhaps foror one collection, fr a couple of elections. it was a very hard is in the they had available at the time to make any kind of accurate prediction about what might happen down the road. mark the line jars of the 21st
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century america are under no such constraints. this is why i think somewhat under the radar gerrymandering has become the greatest threat to american represented democracy. the way the lines are drawn today involves not just the reams of information on individual photos right as we all know our data is being collected constantly. you can find all kinds of atinformation about people that you can used to learn about theirr preferences on how they might vote in elections. but the majoror thing that sets the of the 21st century apart from previous eras in u.s. history is the software and computing power. and particularly the ability to run thousands of simulations on hypothetical district boundaries and predict how those districts
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will perform under a wide variety of hypothetical future electoral conditions. so instead of drawing districts that give you an advantage in finding that advantage evaporates a couple of elections on the road, maybe because some incumbents retire and you have open seats. maybe you get a particular popular presidential candidate from the opposition and they end up winning a significant majority of the popular vote. these are the kinds of unforeseen developments that often led to the collapse of the gerrymander's of yesteryear. but now, not only can you produce thousands of potential sets of districts using algorithms and scrutinize them and find the ones that are most likely to lead to your side winning as many elections as possible.
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you can also stimulate future election results. tinker with the variables and see what is likely to happen incumbents retire. you. can see what is likely to happen if your party loses the popular vote by a certain amount. and you can build redistricting plan that will remain robust in the face of all of these possible future scenarios. and this is exactly what has been done in states like wisconsin. so what concerns me now is that gerrymandering is something that can have effects for multiple decades at a time. you can draw districts as the distance were drawn here in wisconsin in 2010. so one political party controls a majority of theut legislative seats throughout the entire decade no matter how the people vote. and of course that party gets to draw the district again when you
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have a new census. they get to take away the boundaries, incorporate all the new information have accumulated over that decade. and then roll things back again. this is a relatively new phenomenon. in the kind ofe gerrymanderinge have in places like wisconsin is i think unprecedented in u.s. history. what i want to do now is illustrate some of the states i think do redistricting well. in some of the states that do redistricting badly. the state of michigan as a state that has been in both categories in recent decades. ten years ago at michigan was one of the most gerrymandering states in america. just like wisconsin, the republican party had controlled the levers of power in michigan after the 2010 census. and they can use that control to
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draw the districts so that they remained in the majority in both houses of the michigan legislature throughout the decade. they also drew the u.s. house of representatives district so that the results of those elections would give them in and when it came to control of congress. and then something happens. the people of michigan passed imbalanced initiative that amended the state constitution. this amendment created the michigan citizens redistricting commission. it took control of the drawing of districts in michigan away from the state legislature and gave it to an independent commission made up of ordinary citizens. for republicans, for democrats, five independents all regular registered voters.
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selected at random from the pool all of the people who applied. now, michigan was not the first state to experiment with this model. in fact it had been done previously in california as well. it is now also done in the state of colorado. but thisov fundamental and simpe change, simply removing politicians fromomin the equatin was night and day in terms of the fairness of michigan elections. the map you can see on the screen here is the u.s. house map that was produced by the michigan redistricting commission. our safe seats and for highly competitive seats that could go either democratic or republican
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the efficiency gap is the measure that social scientists have developed to capture the severity of gerrymandering in the state. the closer it is 20 they favor the map is breathing more impartially districts are the less of a bias they have built into them toward one side or the otherly. this is an example of an extremely fairma electoral map. and importantly have a critical mass of competitive seats with means you have responsiveness. you have accountability. you have the ability of the citizenry to affect the c composition of the legislature or in this instance u.s. house and delegation. another example of a saint that does things while i mentioned previously is the state of
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arizona. arizona, not coincidentally also has an independent redistricting commission. it was also created by the people through a ballot initiative in the 2000 election. and this illustrates a broader theme of thech book i think whih is that getting rid of gerrymandering is something that is popular across the politicalw spectrumin. what we have seen in recent years is that redistricting reform measures have passed and blue states like california and new york. they have passed ines swing stas like florida and michigan. and they have passed in red states like utah. all of the states when given an opportunity toat vote on the question the people decided that they wanted to reduce the influence of politicians on the drawing districts. arizona as you can see has a
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nice mix of red districts, blue districts in competitive districts. this is what you want to see in a redistricting map. a slight bias towards democrats but i think when youu see the next c map you will see things n get a whole lot worse in terms of the level of bias you can find any redistricting map. this is my home state of florida. and we have of course spent in the news quite a lot recently for some of the various components of governor desantis the policy agenda. which has been not without some controversy. but, incompetent desantis also controversially vetoed the redistricting map of the republican state legislature had drawn. and this is one of the very only times in u.s. history or a governor has vetoed a
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redistricting plan that was created by a legislature controlled by his own political party. the problem governor desantis has that while the gop legislatures map and a bias towards republicans in it, that bias was not larugh for his liking. sally took control of the process. what came out of that was this map drawn by the governor's office in consultation with various republican redistricting operatives. the exact details of that are currently the subject of litigation in the state off florida. but here can see how gerrymandering works. we reduce is much as possible the number of repetitive seats and are on the electoral playing field and you create as manyaf safe seats for your own political party as you can and
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as few safe seats for your opponents. the result is that in the state of florida by pretty english any metric a swing state although a state that partially because of gerrymandering has been controlled by the republican party going all the impact of 2000. but florida and is 28 house district has 18 safe republican states. eight safe democratic seats only to competitive seats. so fewer that either michigan or arizona even though florida has more than twice as many districts as either of the states. you could also see by the efficiency gap metric this map is 10 times as a bias towards republicans as the arizona map was towards democrats. in efficiency gap of 20-point to percent towards republicans as in just about the most biased congressional map i have seen in all of my research on this
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topic. but that is not to say that democrats will not engage in these types of shenanigans given the opportunity. in new york, despite a ballot initiative in new york that create a redistricting commission, the legislature nevertheless reassume control the process. this i think illustrates a crucial lesson when it comes to redistricting reform. when you take power away from the legislature to do this you have to be very, very clear they are not able to reassume it. in new york the redistricting role was an advisory one and the law allowed the legislature to override it in exceptional circumstances. of course everything these days is an exceptional circumstance. democrats in new york drew a map
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that is almost. for safe republican seats into competitive seats or in efficiency gap d plus 8.6. not the worst in the world but still pretty heavily biased district. and then something happened the new york courts overturned the map the legislature had put in place an incentive and replace it with this one. illustrates how you can make a gerrymander go away. what you t do issue drawn more competitive seats. they map the court put in place while siltt tilted toward democrats nevertheless added five competitive districts to the new york landscape and remove five safe democratic
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seats. moving the bias much closer towards parity. this is an example of how the courts can play a role in scrutinizing what legislatures do. the problem is you are relying on the justices or the judges to read the state constitution to prohibit these kinds of practices. and there are plenty of other states were similar lawsuits lehave been filed which did not lead to this kind of results. which brings us back inevitably to wisconsin. a lot of the b focus when it cos to gerrymandering tends to be on federal election. ifr you followed any of the political news of the last six months or so, thomas all the coverage of this topic seems to be about what gerrymandering will differ democrats or
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republicans chances of winning control of the house. that is certainly a valid concern. but the point i have beentt repeatedly attempting to hammer home is the really severe effects of gerrymandering are happening at the state level. they are in state legislatures and they are happening in places like wisconsin. and it may be a little too small for you to read on the screen. there, but basically i election democrats one about 1.5 million votes in the wisconsin state house. so democrats 11 republicans one about one point to. democrats won a slight majority of the overall seats. inn 2010 had a republican wave. not surprising the gop took control of the state legislature
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and this of course gave governor scott walker the opportunity to control the redistricting process. in 2012 under the new republican boundaries the result of the popular vote was remarkably similar to what it was in 2008. democrats won a slight majority of the popular vote. 1.4 million votes to around about one point to. but the result was very different. consider the slight democratic majority 52 -- 46 that you got into thousand eight, 2012 democrats despite winning the popular vote 139 seats to the republican 68. that alignment has been pretty much glued in place ever since. and all of the elections have been held here in wisconsin since the 2010 redistricting.
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that creates legislature know their majority is safe for the individual politicians who have been drawn into the safe seats know that there seats are safe. all they have to do to win reelection is to win over the giprimary. so the wisconsin state legislatures no longer responsive to changes in popular. you can have an election will republicans win a majority and an election where democrats win a majority. have basically the same results. there is no meaningful cheating percentage of seats that are held one party or the other so,
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what can we conclude from this? we have seen it work in arizona producing organ other states as well. most importantly we have seen beginning with new zealand and the late 19th century, that then spread to the rest of the british commonwealth. but every other nationtt pretty
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much as to reach the conclusion of the way to solve gerrymandering is simply to remove politicians from the entirely. to have some kind of independen. entity. that independent process will not always produce perfect results. note redistricting map is ever one 100% fair. but at the very least that prevents the kind of pernicious and severe gerrymandering that has been ubiquitous now and so much of the united states. second, it is very important that a critical mass ofn the hadistrict and ate legislature e at least competitive enough that there is a meaningful opportunity for them to change hands. this of course is the key mechanism of democratic accountability and electoral responsiveness. people are not happy with
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politicians and powers are going to vote against a political party. if enough districts are competitive that political party isfo going to lose its majority. this forces them to pay attention at least to some extent publics opinion. forces them at least to some extent to enact the policies that are reasonably popular with the electorate in their states. whether it is being done by democrats or by republicans. and i document examples of both kinds off gerrymandering in the book. republicans have been more successful at gerrymandering the past couple ofpl decades. but in the 1970s and 1980s, the boot was on the other foot. and it was a democrats that were successful gerrymandering in places like california californ. i'd say that if there's one kind of pithy phrase that you should take away from the book that
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encapsulates the message that i'm trying to sell, it's that voters should choose their politicis politicians should not choose their voters. and that is everything that i have in terms of my talk. but i am happy to answer any questions that people might have. sir. hi there. i'm richard russell from madison. i'm active in three different good government g three different good government groups, wisconsin coalition that addresses the very problem you've been speaking about a year. wisconsin united to amenden whih is to overturn citizens united and the constitutional amendment that says charges et cetera don't count and free spending is in the same as free speech and
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voters first wisconsin which is looking to replace partisan primary is with voting scientist to eliminate the divisiveness that results from the partisan activists with who the final two candidates are. all three of these good government operations face too many obstacles. first it's all procedural they changed the way we do business. they are not substantive like things like abortion or immigration or inflation or gunt or crime or any of those things that are the got issues people can viscerally related to and they are sort of abstract in that regard. but the second major problem we have in getting any of these things through was that all of them require the people who are currently in charge of the system for the beneficiaries of the current system to want to change the current system which
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is basically saying please vote against your own self-interest and this is a huge obstacle to overcome and i was hoping you would have some helpful hints for us. >> thank you for that and i certainly appreciate the work that you're doing and i agree this is. if the central dilemma of trying to fix gerrymandering which is that the people that have the strongest incentives not to fix it are the people who are benefiting the most from the status t quo. there's a reason why the states fthat have been successful at least so far have tended to be states e where it's easier to amend the state constitution using a ballot initiative, so places like california and michigan and colorado it's possible to collect signatures, get an initiative put on the ballot for the people to vote on and if it passes that amend the state constitution which
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unfortunately is not an option that's available in a number of states including wisconsin. but i did think about this ahead of time because i figured thatut there might be a question about what can bens done in wisconsino here's my kind of five-step plan for how you might go about fixing it because the central problem right now of course is that there's no way that the state legislature is ever going to vote to do anything about a gerrymandering which means that we have to rely on a more democratic institution which ironically is the wisconsin supreme court. the state supreme court shouldn't be more democratically accountable than yourfo legislature, but that's kind of the unfortunate solution that we find ourselves in. so the most important thing to do right now in wisconsin is to
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elect justices to the state supreme court who are going to be more inclined to scrutinize gerrymandering by the legislature and at some point hopefully if you can tee up a legal case and have the state supreme court to strike down the boundaries you can then get a fair electoral system that makes it more likely that we can elect a majority that might be inclined to propose an amendment to the state constitution. so i believe the procedures here are that to amend the constitution it has to pass both chambers of the legislature in successive sessions so they have toen pass it once and you have o have an election and the new legislature has to then pass the amendment as well and then it goes to the people for a popular vote. so step one is to get the state supreme court packed with
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justices who are going to scrutinize gerrymandering. step number two to elect the majority to thedo legislature wo want toen do something about ths problem and then step three do that twice in a row and get it put on the ballot. i appreciate that this is a pretty enormous task. that is the kind of thing that you have to do. i appreciate that is kind of a a big ask but based on my analysie that's the only way you can go about fixing this problem in wisconsin. i said i was going to try to avoid pessimism. that's the best i can do on that one. >> it looks like a significant contribution to those of us
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interested in this issue. i wish there was a answer to how you got interested in the topic of gerrymandering it seems your brother recently came to this country and wondering if there might bebe a story there. on the question of the wisconsin supreme court, i will just throw this out there, the wisconsin constitution has a provision that parallels and talks about the purpose of government being the legislature as the institution to do that. in therr gerrymandering case whe they said we will uphold there's one sentence in that data says that's got nothing to do. there's nothing in that version of the declaration of independence that says anything about redistricting so to get to
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the supreme court to do anything so long as it has the current composition. >> one of the things i've observed in looking at a state to supreme court decisions on this question across the nation is that when the justices have the will to try to promote democracy, they will find provisions in the state constitution that can be read in that way whether it's the kind of thing you're talking about. and i don't know this off the top of my head but a lot of states have some variation on a free elections clause. i'm not sure if that's an option in wisconsin but at the very least, there's probably language in the state constitution which requires the states to be kind of a basic and functional democracy, which in many ways it kind of isn't right now.
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the state supreme courts when sn confronted with this question and when the justices art of the opinion that this is something that needs fixing have found ways to do it. to the other question i became interested in gerrymandering about 15 years ago and there's not really an interesting story behind it. i was in grad school and needed a topic to write a paper on and one of my professors suggested this. >> okay. thank you. >> thanks for the talk. very interesting. i'm trying to think how can we make a difference as we are waiting for the upcoming election next april. that's obviously one thing we can do here in wisconsin but i'm curious if you've ever talked about or had people ask about people from gerrymandered
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districts that have mobility to move into other districts with the rise of teleworking. more people have that capability and it would require a lot of people to do that but i'm curious your take on that. >> i think it's an interesting idea and this is a solution you've heard come up in other contexts moving to a particular state to try to say balance out some of the bias in the electoral college. i have yet to see it be done successfully largely because you have that kind of collective action problem. you need to get everyone to follow through on it. >> into the same placeshe probably. >> right. then the issue becomes at the end of the decade you get a new census and you have the opportunity to gerrymander things again. i like the idea in theory. i'm just a little skeptical that
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it could be executed on a larger anscale to have a meaningful effect. >> my question you and many others who want to propose the deal the independentnt commissin has the solution to all this and we showed some examples software that's produced better maps but we also certainly have cases where the independent commissions have produced maps that have some serious flaws in them that got rejected multiple times, maybe didn't meet the voting acts requirements so the redistricting commissions are not when they are independent not always flawless and i think also because so many states go overboard making sure the people who serve on the commissions are so removed from the political process that they often don't have i think enough knowledge to
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completely undo some of what historically has been done. use all the maps you showed got that margin down in terms of the bias but it didn't get rid of it and some of that is the sophistication of the people. have you done any looking at 12 or 13 years ago the redistricting order sam hirsch proposed a solution that actually involves an independent commission but still has the political parties very involved as being map proposers who then have to have their maps evaluated by the commission until they kind of narrow down to the best map possible from each side issuing competing ones and you could even go a step further allowing the public to be part of the process and with all the technology now present ultimately hundreds of maps
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until you, have kind of the best map for the parties as well as the public put forth. >> i think that's we are still kind of in the early stages i think about figuring out what model is going to be best for doing this but absolutely i think having a process that allows for as many submissions as possible and as much information as possible providing expertise to commissions and i certainly don't want to suggest that they are a panacea but at the very least they tend to produce on average results that are significantly better at least in terms of bias but i also think that it's important to be clear exactly what criteria you want the commissions to take into account and that ultimately is a policy judgment and i can see different estates going different ways. but for me at least the first step is to get politicians out
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of being involved in this process and once we've done that we can try to figure out what the best is for redistricting through the c commission in this kind of 21st century environment with all the technology and that kind of stuff. [applause]
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