How do you know when you've seen a gerrymandered district? Maybe it looks like a duck or a snake, or a pair of earmuffs. Or maybe there's no obvious sign that the mapmakers played games with the contours in order to ensure a particular electoral outcome inside those boundaries.
The last contests using the current set of congressional maps are a year away. After that, the results of the 2020 census will be used for the redistricting of the entire country — assuring a fresh burst of gerrymandering by politicians with the power to draw maps designed for keeping themselves in power. (The North Carolina districts mentioned below are very likely to get altered before the next election, however, to settle a lawsuit alleging the current map favors Republicans so much as to violate the state Constitution's "fair elections" clause.)
We asked half a dozen people who have studied the way American political maps are drawn to reveal their best examples of the most flagrant current gerrymandering. Of course there are plenty of ways to approach that task. In some cases, the really odd shapes make it easier. In others, experts need to dive deep into demographic data to discover the most egregious examples of packing and cracking.
A federal judge is allowing a coalition of 15 states and the District of Columbia to be defendants in a lawsuit seeking to exclude noncitizens from being counted in the run-up to the re-allocation of congressional seats.
Last year the state of Alabama and one of its Republican congressmen, Mo Brooks, sued the Trump administration, arguing that the counting of undocumented immigrants in census figures used for determining reapportionment unfairly benefits states with higher numbers of noncitizens.
Alabama contends that counting the whole population — the practice used for apportionment since Congess began — rather than just citizens will cost the state one of its seven House seats (and therefore one of its electoral votes) following the 2020 census tally.
The Alabama legislature has cleared a bill that would amend the state constitution to clarify who is allowed to vote. The Republican-written measure, which will require voter approval in November 2020, would change the constitution to say "only a citizen of the United States" rather than "every citizen of the U.S." has the right to vote in one of the reddest states in the country.
This is one of the first statewide referendums set for next year. Joshua Jones of Citizen Voters, which is promoting the idea, says the measure is needed to ensure that only American citizens are allowed to vote. While federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in congressional and presidential elections, some communities – including San Francisco – have expanded voting to non-citizens in certain local elections.
Voters in North Dakota approved a similar constitutional amendment in 2018 and comparable initiatives are being proposed in Colorado and Florida.