Like All Things, Technology Could Solve Gerrymandering

Jack Shields | @Jack_Shields20

With the 2020 election approaching fast, many Americans are thinking about how they will vote at the polls. This election cycle consists of intense interest, most of which is well deserved. The election will be a hotly contested one. Many dislike the Trump administration but can’t seem to find a replacement for him outside of the Democratic Party. However, the Presidential election should not block out another important issue: the reallocating of the 435 Congressional seats in the House of Representatives between the fifty states and the subsequent redistricting of said seats.

What Can Solve Gerrymandering?

The Rules Regarding Gerrymandering

Every ten years, redistricting of the House of Representatives occurs in accordance to Article I, Section II, Clause III of the Constitution, which requires the seats allotted to each state to be proportional to the population of each state compared to the nation as a whole. This is all according to the latest census, which also occurs every ten years. The Constitution is then silent on how the Representatives will be picked inside the states and on the issues of districts.

Districts come into the picture with the Apportionment Act of 1911, which created 435 House districts that must be equal in population, and the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929, which made the number of 435 districts permanent among increasing fears that the House had grown too large.

The American View

The issue of allowing states to draw the districts themselves has been a subject of constant scrutiny and disapproval among the American people. This problem has been present in the United States since the conception of districts. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry (for whom the term gerrymandering is named) was creating districts in his state of Massachusetts in a way that would benefit himself over the interests of his constituents.

Most Americans realize that there is something wrong with this. According to recent polls, 70% of Americans agree that the Supreme Court should put restrictions on gerrymandering. 55%, who had a partisan political affiliation, were against the practice.

The disagreement arises when we debate on how to achieve reform. One of the more popular ideas is that independent commissions would redraw the districts rather than the politicians themselves. However, this solution is anything but an actual solution. Many humans act in their self-interests, and to assume that only politicians do so is flawed.

Instead of transferring power from one set of humans to another, we should choose to take the power out of our hands altogether. It may not have been perfect when Governor Gerry was rigging districts. However, it was the best choice they had. Education among the populace was low, the technology we have today was non-existent, and the distance between D.C. and the states was too vast for federal control on the matter. The only viable option was giving control to the state government.

However, we now live in 2019. We have the technology and the educated populace necessary for a real solution. Instead of drawing the districts ourselves, Americans should allow a computer program, one without ambitions of political power, to determine how the districts will be drawn.

Brian Olson has already done the math. On his site, he shows how districts created by his algorithm are more equal in population and shape than those created by politicians that design to get themselves reelected. It is obvious to anyone that these algorithms, whether it be his or someone else’s, would be a huge improvement compared to the partisan gerrymandering we have today.

Math seems like such a simple solution to this problem, but instead, we find ourselves fighting over an issue that we all agree on. We should stop this arguing realize that algorithms are the solution to our problem.


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