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Funny How Things Work Out...

One of my recurring themes (and nightmares) has been moves by the left that I've perceived as aimed at manipulating and subverting elections. When President Obama moved the direct oversight of the Census from the Secretary of the Treasury (and at that point, his nominee was New Hampshire's own Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican), I was concerned. The census determines how seats in the House are distributed.

That's also at the core of my concerns about voter registration fraud and voter intimidation. With games like flooding registrars with bogus registrations, the potential for mischief was tremendous: not only did it create opportunities for fraudulent voting, not only did it open opportunities for "finding" bogus ballots after the election, it also laid the groundwork for charges of "voter suppression" and "lack of mandate" by artificially suppressing the percentage turnout.

I'm also troubled by George Soros' "Secretary of State" project. He's sinking tons of money into getting ideologically friendly folks into the Secretary of State positions in as many states as possible -- and, among other things, Secretaries of State oversee and certify elections.

But every now and then, I'm reminded that our system tends to be self-correcting. Attempts to manipulate or game or out-and-out cheat the system tend to fail.

And that's what happened this week.

Let's look at reapportionment. Every ten years, the federal government holds a census. Once those numbers are in, the membership of the House is divvied up, as populations shift around. There are only 435 seats in the House, and they have to be divided as evenly as possible. The census will decide which states will gain and which will lose representation -- and that potentially can be manipulated.

But that's just the first part. The next phase takes place at the state level. Every single state has to redraw its Congressional districts after reapportionment, to try to balance each district population-wise. And that's where Gerrymandering comes in, as the districts are often drawn on partisan grounds. Sometimes it's to protect incumbents of one party. Sometimes it's to set up districts that are a "majority minority" to help a minority member get elected. Sometimes it will be drawn to pit two (or even more) incumbent Representatives of the same party against each other. Sometimes it will be to concentrate a large number of the opposition into one district, and allow the other party to numerically dominate several others. (That one's kind of tricky; if you make one district 85% Republican, you can then make several others 55-65% Democratic, just to pick some numbers out of the air.) And so on. It's a grand game, played out on the state level.

My favorite example was the (rejected) Republican plan in Massachusetts in 1990. They came up with a new map that not only had each district balanced within ten or so voters, it put every single sitting Representative against another, leaving the other half of the seats open. It was a work of political genius.

Wow, I'm just past 500 words and I haven't gotten to the meat of my thesis here. Time to pick it up.

As I said, redistricting is done at the state level, not the federal level. It is left to the several states to divide themselves into Congressional districts. More specifically, the state legislatures.

Where the Republicans just picked up 680 total state legislative seats. They hold both Houses in 26 states (including a huge supermajority here in New Hampshire -- 19-5 in the Senate, 298-102 in the House), and hold at least one House in five more states. The Democrats hold just sixteen states outright. (Three states are still up in the air -- Washington, Oregon, and New York. See map here.)

And all this happened without any apparent grand conspiracy. Further, I don't think it could happen with a grand conspiracy -- it's just too hard to try to influence all those individual elections without word leaking out. (As I said above, New Hampshire alone has 424 seats in our legislature.)

All those grand plots (or perceived plots) to influence, rig, or circumvent elections, and in the end it fell apart because of one crucial factor -- that redistricting is the province of the state legislatures, and that is one of the hardest things to control.

I am constantly amazed at just how wonderful our system of governance is. It has more safeguards and checks and balances and regulating mechanisms than many of us ever imagined -- while still being a system best described as "institutionalized revolution" that tends to capture would-be radicals and insurgents and make them part of the system they say they want to destroy.

Man, I love my country. And my Constitution.


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Comments (15)

"Man, I love my country. An... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

"Man, I love my country. And my Constitution."

Whenever I visit DC I ALWAYS make it a point to go to the Archives to see the Declaration and Constitution. If I would only have time to visit one landmark, this would be it. There is no more important item in Washington than the Constitution. Seeing moves me and makes me feel very fortunate to have been born and raised in this country.

As far as your comments about elections go, I want to paraphrase something I read elsewhere. Elections are inherently simple things. People vote and then the votes are counted. It's only when you get the left involved (the liberals, progressives, Soros, or whatever guise they are assuming at the moment) that things become complicated. We must remain vigilant in this regard.

The Dems have been reduced ... (Below threshold)
Cindermutha:

The Dems have been reduced to spectators in the FL legislature as well. I'm not gloating. Ok, yes I am.

"Where the Republicans just... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Where the Republicans just picked up 680 total state legislative seats. They hold both Houses in 26 states ... The Democrats hold just sixteen states outright."

What are the odds that that those 16 D states gerrymander the hell out out of those districts while those 26 R states try to keep it fair? Might be interesting to track that.

I haven't checked, but it w... (Below threshold)
Jeff Medcalf:

I haven't checked, but it would be interesting to see how state control of redistricting breaks out once you remove the states that have only one representative. I suspect that the margin doesn't look quite as good for the Republicans in that circumstance, because the Republicans control a lot of small-population states. Well, but the Democrats control small states in the NE, so maybe it's a wash.

Jay, there is always contr... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay, there is always controversy surronding how census's are conducted. In appointing Judd Gregg as Secretary of the Treasury , Obama took a big risk. The risk being that Judd Gregg could implement a controversal census rule that either favors republicans or gives the impression that it favors republicans. If that were to have happened, than many democrats would blame Obama for appointing Judd Gregg. Obama would be portayed (by other democrats) as giving up too much power in order to reach out to republicans and his popularity among democrats would sink. Therefore, I think it was a wise move to require that Judd Gregg report to Obama. Remember that Obama could have simply appointed a democrat to be Secretary of State, but he choose a republican.

It was my understanding that Judd Gregg was still going to be running the census on a daily basis. But Obama would have the right to overrule and desicions that Judd Gregg made. I actually liked that arrangement because of the checks and balances it would provide. If Judd Gregg were to try some manipulation than Obama would be able to over rule it. If Obama tried to manipulate the census, I do not think he could do so without Judd Gregg finding out. Which would have made it harder for Obama to get away with it. If a republican president were to appoint a democrat to conduct the census, wouldn't you feel better about it if the democrat was required to report to the president?

Still need to remove the SE... (Below threshold)
Pete:

Still need to remove the SEIU from having anything to do with handling the equipment. Ever notice how the Democrat always seem to win the close elections? It always seems that stacks and stacks on uncounted ballots turn up at the last minute favoring the Democrat.

All well and good. But REME... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

All well and good. But REMEMBER...everything rests on the WILLINGNESS of republicans to take the flack and criticism from the media and the rest of the left when apportionment time does roll around. Will republicans cave, buckle, bend over to political correctness and redraw virtually NOTHING--all in the name of "bipartisanship"... er that is, GUTLESSNESS??!!

Thanks to our founding fath... (Below threshold)
mag:

Thanks to our founding fathers and their brillance to come up with this gov't that will stand the test of time.

When & Where re in any time in history that such a group of brillant men (though they had many disagreement/fights etc) gathered together for one cause than the start of this country?

Tina, Gregg is a fellow New... (Below threshold)

Tina, Gregg is a fellow New Hampshirite. He's "represented" me for 2/3 of my entire life. I don't care much for the guy. But I've NEVER heard his integrity questioned.

Gary Locke? Not so much.

Unless you've heard something about Gregg that I -- as a constituent of his for almost 30 years, in various offices -- haven't heard. If so, I'd like to hear it.

J.

Jay, I did not mean to impl... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay, I did not mean to imply that Judd Gregg lacks integrity. My concerns have more to do with human nature than democratic verse republican. Any president that gives the power to conduct the census to the other polical party, is taking a risk that the census will be skewed to the other party. I do not believe there has ever been a census conducted by democrats that did not favor democrats in some way and feel the same about census's conducteed by republicans. As far as I know, Obama was the first president in history to give the power to conduct the census to the other party. Instead of giving Obama credit for this, he is getting slammed for not giving over 100% of the authority to Judd Gregg.

Tina, another way of puttin... (Below threshold)

Tina, another way of putting it would be "Obama was the first president to try to put control over the Census over political aides and appointees over a Senate-approved Cabinet Secretary."

If he didn't want a Republican running the census, then he shouldn't have considered offering Gregg the job. Gregg said yes, with the understanding that it included ALL the duties the law assigns to the office -- and then Obama started taking away from that when he saw that Gregg wasn't going to be his Republican beard, but actually do the job as he saw it.

J.

Nevertheless, a big move ag... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

Nevertheless, a big move against gerrymandering would be most welcome in my book. My somewhat simple, albiet still un-detailed idea is this: Every congressional district border must be a pre-existing county/parish line. Inside large counties with multiple US reps, it must be a pre-exisiting borough, ward, or whatever line, that delineates a district that is represented by local elected representatives within that county.

This would push representatives to the middle ideologically, offer stability to the geography of these districts, and I believe foster closer relationships between local and congressional reps, as they would be representing the exact same territory in different venues.

Make me dictator, and it shall be thus.

Jay, before disputing your ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay, before disputing your last comment I need to do some reasearch to verify that my memory is correct on some key issues. I can't do so while at work, so will have to wait until this evening.

Andrew X - that is exactly ... (Below threshold)
Alan:

Andrew X - that is exactly what the Indiana Secretary of State (now Congressional Rep) proposed, and I like the plan.

http://rethinkingredistricting.com/

Dear readers do you think I... (Below threshold)
stu:

Dear readers do you think I have a problem? I was watching a football game earlier today and a black man came on the screen attempting to sell me insurance. I'd had enough of the game anyway so I turned the TV off with my remote. Since then I've noticed what could be described as a muted hiss emanating from the set. Now I'm concerned that, what with advances in electronics and all, someone out there has noted that I rudely pressed the off button while a black man was speaking. You don't suppose I will be visited by the thought police sometime soon do you? I've thought of escaping to Canada but heard, recently, they'd changed their policies towards political refugees. Of course Mexico is much closer to my phoenix home but, well, no one goes there anymore. Oh, Oh, I've gone and antagonized another race. I'm late, must hurry. Cheers




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