PRESENTERS: DR. MARYANN BROMLEY AND DR. JOHN RIOLO
March 7, 2018
MODERATOR: NEIL FUNNELL
Neil starts off with the following comments: “U. S. Chief Justice John Roberts hates gerrymandering cases - "…..you’re taking these issues away from democracy and deciding them on what I can only describe as sociological gobbledygook”. Another perspective - When lines are drawn such that one party gets 80% of the seats with 55% of the votes, is democracy served?.
Dr. MaryAnn Bromley received both her MSW (1979) and her Ph.D.(1985) from Fordham University with specialties in public policy and research. Nationally. Dr. Bromley is currently on the Board of the League of Women Voters of the Hilton Head/Bluffton area where she is chair of State Issues & Advocacy, including issues of redistricting and gerrymandering.
MaryAnn states the following: Gerrymandering, the practice of drawing the lines for voting districts in a way that influences the outcome of elections, has reached new heights with the advent of sophisticated redistricting mapping software. It is now possible to get an exact street by street picture of voters’ political, economic and demographic data and move or change district lines accordingly. The mapping software itself, and the content therein, is non-partisan. It is the user and the user’s purpose that can make the process of drawing district lines partisan and the outcome, gerrymandered.
How many are helped or hurt by Gerrymandering? We have contested issues presently in 4 states: WI. MD. NC. PA. There is also a board set up to discuss such issues in SC. Statistics play a Key role. The larger the the population, the higher number of representatives. States are divided into districts. Each district sends 1 representative to to the House. Redrawing district lines to significantly favor a particular party is called Gerrymandering named after Elbridge Gerry from MA. This can and is being used to keep the ruling party in power. Legislators in a state draw the lines & the Governor can veto. If one party controls all 3 houses in state then that party can decide to redraw lines to get max # of districts.
Click below to download a PDF of MaryAnn's powerpoint.
Dr. John Riolo earned a Ph.D. in Social Work from Fordham University in 1985. He is currently a contributing faculty member at Walden University teaching courses in research, statistics and ethics in technology. Dr. Riolo was formerly in private practice in mental health with offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
John agreed and disagreed.
John takes the position that voting districts will always be skewed in one direction or another. While trying to make voting districts fair and equitable, we must guard against the unintended consequences. One group or another will complain that it is unfair, and it may not be possible to come up with a solution that pleases everyone. Ethical models and beware of unintended consequences and do no harm. Eg school busing to eliminate segregation. People moved further out or sent children to private schools and increased segregation. The same applies to Gerrymandering — Put ourselves in jurists shoes. Extremes are the issue. It is often in eyes of beholder. We are all subject to biases. Should we rather have them appointed? In elections there are winners & losers. In sports after we win or lose, we are still friends.
The problem is Polarization. Here we have gated communities with security and people are friends and not friends. News stations often cause friends to become enemies. we live in a Gerrymandered society. It should be best for us to work together, although we have different politics. We must strive to find common interests. I have previously worked in marital therapy. Couples have an agreement problem. We must go back to where we can agree, and then come together in spite of our present day tribalism. Redistribution may not accomplish what we wish. Our State legislature draws the district lines. 80+ % of the time, the party in charge will win. Republicans still would have majority? Non partisan commission Want boundaries to represent 60/40.
MaryAnn and I disagree but rarely challenge each other’s facts. Remember there are often unintended consequences. School busing solved some problems and led to others What are the conclusions derived from these facts? What is extreme gerrymandering and to whom? There are always winners/losers. Today we are polarized—a nation of “tribes”. Us vs the outsider. The enemy should not be an opponent. Both sides are guilty. What is the logical solution. We are living in Gerrymandering world. When we only follow the people we like, we Isolate ourselves.
Neil: HHI Ward 1 highly gerrymandered? This actually seems to have served racial gerrymandering, probably benefitting Afro-American representation in our community.
Q:How many states use a non partisan commission?
A. Probably 9-11. FL. uses a referendum. Other states have involved different leagues. Nationwide, we are partisan. NC will not have to redistrict until after 2018.
Q: is districting for the state different from the Fed?
A. There is a Constitutional basis and raises the question: Is the Supreme Court overstepping? Elections are always bipartisan and non partisan, If not controlled we get self interest. Every 10 years we redo districts via population— All within 5%. Fed criterion.
John raised the question: How do we get to a bipartisan commission?
Q: What’s fair for SC?
MaryAnn answered: Republicans are in charge in SC. There is a need to compromise. Republicans predominate in 4 of 7 districts. She adds that the Federal government uses 5% guideline to create a difference.
Q: Is “Chunky” districting fairer than “strings”?
Our sincere thanks to Mary Ann and John for their well-researched, detailed and well presented discussion regarding “Ethical Factors Involved in Gerrymandering." Thanks also to Neil Funnell for moderating and using some interesting scenarios.