Aggressive gerrymandering may make elections far less competitive, experts say

Redistricting has become a partisan deathmatch as lawmakers in both parties seek political advantages in many states.

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11/27/2021 8:03:00 PM

As states across the country draft and enact political boundaries for the next decade, Americans can expect far fewer close, competitive contests, experts say.

Redistricting has become a partisan deathmatch as lawmakers in both parties seek political advantages in many states.

that looks more like a series of inkblot Rorschach tests than a group of compact political districts. The map gives Democrats control of 14 of the state’s 17 seats, according to a Princeton Gerrymandering Project analysis which gave the state an F-grade on the map, particularly singling out its lack of geographic compactness, partisan fairness, and competitiveness. President Joe Biden won the state by 7 points in 2020.

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The 13th district, for instance, starts in St. Louis before running three hours northeast, picking up parts of Springfield, Decatur, and Champaign. The Chicago area is split between seven Congressional districts, one of which looks like amisshapen lobster claw.

"You can't always tell a gerrymander by its shape, but sometimes you can. Illinois is an example of where the fact that districts look funny actually does flag the fact that they not only look funny, but they are extremely politically biased," Li said. headtopics.com

3. Ohio sidestepped a new commissionIn recent years, Ohio has made changes to the state's Constitution aimed at making the redistricting process fairer, including forming a bipartisan redistricting commission to draw the maps when lawmakers fail to reach a bipartisan compromise. But the commission created to assist with map drawing came up short this fall, sending the Congressional maps back to the GOP-run state legislature, which created maps that experts say are extremely gerrymandered in their favor.

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The final map splits Cincinnati and its diverse suburbs in Hamilton County into three different districts, pairing urban, Democratic voters with more rural, conservative areas. Democrats are expected to win approximately three seats out of the 15 Ohio was apportioned this year,

. Trump won the state by 8 points in the 2020 election.Experts said many states attempting to use redistricting commissions faced growing pains. While some states includingMichigancreated independent redistricting commissions, others, like Virginia and Ohio, have attempted bipartisan commissions with partisan players still in the mix. As the state became more Republican in recent years, the incentive to avoid gerrymandering lessened.

"The thinking was, well everyone will want to compromise and get a ten-year map, because you won’t know who is in control of the commission in four years," Li said. But, he added,"it’s proven really hard for people to take off their partisan hats." headtopics.com

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Andwhile some are frustrated withlegislators' continued gerrymandering, there are some notable changes: Without Democrats' support, the maps will only last four years. The GOP will also have to prove the maps don't"unduly" favor them if the issue comes up in court. On Monday, the Democrat-aligned National Redistricting Action Fund filed a lawsuit charging that the maps give the GOP an unfair advantage.

4. Georgia turned a competitive district into a deep blue vote sinkGeorgia's Republican-controlled state legislature approved new maps on Monday, paving the way for the GOP to secure another seat in Congress.Republicans currently hold eight of 13 Congressional seats in the state. The proposed map, which still needs the governor's signature to be enacted, would give Republicans an additional seat, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, leaving Democrats with just five seats in the state that recently voted to send President Joe Biden and two Democratic senators to Washington.

The map won a C-grade from thePrinceton Gerrymandering Project,which notes there are no competitive seats in the state.The new Congressional map makes big changes to two districts north of Atlanta, making the 6th district — currently held by Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath — very conservative while packing Democrats into the 7th district. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped the 7th district last year by less than 3 points, but the seat now has a 25-point Democratic advantage, according to the Princeton analysis.

The 7th district is what election experts call a"vote sink" — a district where voters from one party are packed into a single district to make the surrounding districts more favorable to the opposite party. On Monday, McBath saidshe'd run for office there. headtopics.com

Ken Lawler, chair of nonpartisan group Fair Districts GA, said the map appeared to reduce Black representation in the state.

Read more: MSNBC »

As our Democracy starts to benefit ALL the American people, there is a sudden need to circumvent the outcome. Democracy is a great system until you realize that you're not winning all the time. DIMmoCRAZY I’m no expert and I’ve been saying this already. Gops goal is to disassemble this democracy. This is one of things that will KILL democracy in America! Once we totally lose faith in voting and elections because the political party DOMINATING our state has baked the cake of the elections we will just STOP voting because it won't matter. That's what the GOP wants us 2 do

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