U.S. Redistricting; The Disregard of Public Policy
In the United States, each state is divided into a number of districts proportional to the population of that state. Within each district, an election is held every two years; it is the winners of these elections that comprise the U. S. House of Representatives. Every ten years, in response to the national census, the states are re-divided into districts to ensure equal representation in the House of Representatives; this redrawing of districts is called redistricting. Redistricting is one of the oldest acts of democratic governance in the United States. Redistricting also has a crucial impact on the outcome of Congressional electoral campaigns. The majority of states have implemented no redistricting reforms while others have adopted “reformed” systems that allow continued legislative control of the process. After playing the simulation redistricting game, my partisan view made me realize the complexity of a bi-partisan district. However, this report will show that there are other options available to solve the fierce partisan approach of the re-districting process in the United States.
Was I successful following the re-districting game to meet Supreme Court requirements, getting the State Legislators and Governors to agree then sign the plan, and receiving an acceptable Court ruling? After playing the Redistricting Game I was successful but I experienced what actually happens when Congress has to draw districts to win a majority vote. There are different political persons involved in the approval of redistricting including Congress, the state legislatures, the Supreme Court and advisory commissions. In reality the federal courts (as well as the state courts), play a major role in the redistricting process in the United States. They develop redistricting standards, settle redistricting conflicts, and even draft redistricting plans. When there is partisan conflict between the two houses of a state legislature, the legislature and the governor, or if there is belief that a legislature may stop the passing of a redistricting bill in time for the general election, or when a stakeholder believes the plan is illegal or unconstitutional, residents may sue in state or federal court asking the court to correct an endorsed plan or adopt a new plan if none was enacted. The federal and state courts must then postpone to a legislature that is actively engaged in adopting a plan. However, if the legislature fails to meet deadlines set by the court, the court may create a redistricting plan of its own making it effective until the legislature creates a suitable plan (1). Having the State Legislature pass my proposed plan in the redistricting game was quite easy as it is for most states because state legislators are responsible for drawing their own district lines and they often produce plans that favor incumbents’ partisan or bipartisan self-interest. There are two categories for drawing legislative lines: those where the legislature maintains the ability to put into practice the redistricting plan it selects, and those where the legislature does not have ultimate control. The standard legislative process and the legislative system with back-up are the two most popular types of legislative control. For example, Texas uses the latter where the legislature passes a bill and sends it to the Governor for signature, but if they do not act by certain dates a back-up system is triggered. In three of the last five apportionments have been managed by the back -up board consisting of executive, legislative, and judicial officials (2). Receiving the Governor’s approval and signature on the simulation game redistricting plan was also easy and fortunately my bill was not vetoed. In some states including Texas, Following final adoption by both houses, each redistricting bill is presented to the governor for approval. The governor may sign the bill into law, allow...
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