Nonpartisan Redistricting Not Quite a Cure-All for Gerrymandering

Pro Publica: How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission.

Previous redistrictings had been executed by political pros with intimate knowledge of California’s sprawling political geography. The commissioners had little of that expertise — and one of their first acts was to deprive themselves of the data that might have helped them spot partisan manipulation.

The law creating the commission barred it from considering incumbents’ addresses, and instructed it not to draw districts for partisan reasons.

The commissioners decided to go further, agreeing not to even look at data that would tell them how prospective maps affected the fortunes of Democrats or Republicans. This left the commissioners effectively blind to the sort of influence the Democrats were planning.

The commissioners were “civilian” volunteers who were holding down day jobs. They had neither the know-how nor the resources to winnow the wheat from the chaff, and in defensive attempts to limit input ended up shutting down legitimate citizen participation as well.

Reaction to the report, unsurprisingly, depended upon party affiliation.