Gerrymandering after the last census has hurt democracy all over the nation. The technique is used to draw districts that are favorable for partisans—in this case, Republicans. Across the country, Republicans abused power at the state level to draw districts which disproportionately help the Republican Party by making Democratic votes count for less. Take North Carolina, for example: Despite winning only 53 percent of the vote, Republicans were able to claim 77 percent of the legislative seats. This trend is incredibly damaging and undermines faith in democracy.
Now, yet another state’s districts have been ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered, this time in Pennsylvania. In a major victory for Democrats, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the current map cannot be used in the 2018 midterm elections and that a new map must be drawn. The Huffington Post reports,
The suit against the congressional map, which only challenged it under Pennsylvania’s state constitution, was one of the most watched voting rights cases in the country. The ruling could encourage groups to bring similar challenges against congressional gerrymandering cases in other states and bypass a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently considering two cases dealing with partisan gerrymandering.
Pennsylvania has been described as one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country, and analyses have found the map is responsible for at least three additional GOP seats in Congress. Republicans controlled the redistricting process in 2010 and drew the map to give them a considerable advantage. In the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections they won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats, despite just winning about 50 percent of the vote.
You can read the court order below:
Here is the order from the PA Supreme Court. It says an opinion will follow in the future. pic.twitter.com/6lR7LDUtcp
— Daniel Jacobson (@Dan_F_Jacobson) January 22, 2018
In recent years, Republicans have come to a troubling realization: Demographics are not on their side. The majority of the Republican Party is old and white, and their base is quite literally dying off. Younger voters overwhelmingly support Democrats. Not only that, but minority populations are growing, and eventually white people will no longer be the overwhelming majority. That’s going to turn states like Texas and Florida blue, negating the chances of the Republican party winning national elections.
So what do Republicans do to combat this trend? Some within the party have flirted with the possibility of courting minority voters. That’s one of the reasons for the current immigration fight, in fact—many Republicans, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, think that the party should keep the future in mind when negotiating on immigration. Unfortunately, that’s not the winning view within the GOP.
As the Republican Party has grown more ideologically extreme, so too have their tactics. Instead of courting minority voters and trying to get them to vote Republican, the GOP has decided the way forward is through gerrymandered districts and suppressed votes. Whenever they have the chance, they’re limiting early voting, cutting polling places, and creating hurdles to make it more difficult for minorities to vote. That, on top of gerrymandered districts, has seriously impacted the ability of Americans to participate in their democracy.
Republicans know they can’t win if they fight fair.
Featured image via Lisa Lake/Getty Images for MoveOn.org