Recent posts herein have been
parts of a series, your humble servant hereby mentions in the event it hasn’t
been obvious. But events will intervene, and it is now timely and important to
raise the issue of election integrity, since it is the subject of legislation
currently pending in Congress that ostensibly seeks to make it easier for
citizens to vote.
The “For the People Act”  is
sweeping voter rights legislation that will never pass. The reason it will
never pass is that there aren’t enough Democrats in the Senate to overcome a
filibuster. And the Republicans aren’t going to vote for the legislation,
because it has long been the case, and well known to be so, that Republican
chances at electoral success diminish as more people show up at the polls to
vote. Thus, the proverb that Republicans should pray for rain. 
The proposed legislation would do
such things, in federal elections, as expand early voting, allow same-day
registration, set up automatic registration, and require every state to have an
independent commission for redistricting. 
Now all of these things are
worthy aspirations. But the Act suffers from the same malady that afflicts much
of modern legislation: it’s too long, and tries to cover too much. Few will
actually read the bill. This gives the likes of Ted Cruz cover to claim that
the proposed legislation is trying to give illegal aliens the right to vote. 
But perhaps it would be better if
the elephant were eaten one bite at a time.
It is useful for public
understanding of the issues if proposed legislation is confined to a single
issue. It is also a practice that might aid politicians (or even citizens) to
actually read the legislation they are voting on. I recognize what a cultural
shift that would be for our modern Congress, and that it would debilitate their
ability to engage in obfuscation. But can it be doubted that it would help
citizens to understand better what their legislators are doing?
So, perhaps the For the People
Act can be broken down into smaller bites; and my humble suggestion is that
they first take up the issue of gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering has been with us
since the beginning of the republic, and its essential unfairness has always
been recognized by those who end up being underrepresented by the practice. But,
in their saner moments, those who have benefited from it might rise to the
level of admitting that it is indefensible.
Here’s how it would work. Begin
by dividing the population of the state in question in half by using the
shortest straight line possible. Then you divide those halves in half, again
using the shortest straight line possible. Repeat until the number of districts
required is achieved.
But what if a state has an odd
number of districts, say, seven? Begin by dividing 7/2 which equals 3.5.
Rounding up, that makes 4; rounding down, that makes 3. Then combine those
numbers into the ratio 4:3. Then you divide the population, again using the
shortest straight lines possible, according to that ratio. The 4 side will then
be divided, again with the shortest straight lines possible into four equal
groups. The 3 side will be divided, 3/2, to get 1.5. Rounded up, that’s 2, and
rounded down that’s 1. The 1 group comprises a district, and the two remaining
are halved using the shortest straight line.
It makes more sense if you see it
pictorially. Click on this link to see a video that explains it all
with abundant clarity. The advantage of this method is that there “is one and
only one drawing possible given the number of districts wanted, the map of the
state, and the distribution of people inside it. Which of those people are
Liberal, Conservative, Republican, Democrat, Black, White, Christian, Jewish,
polka-dotted, or whatever has absolutely zero effect on the district shapes
that come out. So you know the maps are going to be completely unbiased.”  And isn’t that what we want, after all?
Some member of Congress should introduce a bill requiring the shortest-splitline algorithm method for drawing districts. And some member of every state legislature in the country should do the same. It would be interesting to see politicians trying to come up with a rationale to oppose it.