BERNARD COLUMN: Gerrymandering

Published 10:15 am Saturday, August 21, 2021

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By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

Extremist right-wing publications are celebrating the latest Robert’s Supreme Court blow to democracy. Specifically, this SCOTUS has ruled against having gerrymandering cases, no matter how unfair, brought into the Federal Courts. This action represents a major change, coming after the activist Robert’s court gutted the voting rights act years ago, ignoring decades of precedent.

These media savvy conservative extremists are incorrectly publicizing this decision, as they often do, as a victory for states’ rights and freedom. But it’s only an undemocratic win for the Republican Party at the expense of the nation’s voters.

As the Hill (a highly respected mainstream DC publication) put it, this decision will only exacerbate the political fighting at the state level. It will result in gutting voting rights and unfairly removing decision making from the voters and transferring it to “those who would manipulate maps for their own political gain”

The respected non-profit Brennan Center indicates that Georgia and three other Southern states controlled by the GOP (Texas, North Carolina and Florida) will be the battleground states for gerrymandering. According to them, there is “even greater room for unfair processes and results than in 2011, when the country saw some of the most gerrymandered maps in its history.”

Why is this occurring? For many reasons, including the lack of national and state legislation to prevent it. Some states have enacted laws to make the process more equitable. 

However, not in the above 4 states.

They have been solid red in past years but are becoming bluer slowly but surely. And that fact scares the GOP leadership on the national, state and local levels.

Nowhere can this be illustrated more clearly than in Georgia, where President Biden won, as did both of the Democrats in the 2020-2021 Senate races.

Once upon a time, gerrymandering was a hit and miss proposition. But no more. With computers, districts can be gerrymandered down to the block level. In Georgia, any public official can make an appointment and go to the Capitol where a staff member will assist them in creating various geographic scenarios to help get them elected. I’ve personally seen the process in action.

In the above four states, gerrymandering means having very high concentrations of Democrats in a few districts while spreading out the rest of the democratic vote in the remaining districts (the majority of districts). And that’s the Democrat’s dilemma. Unless things change very soon, the House will be lost in 2022 just due to state level GOP gerrymandering.