In a 2-to-1 ruling by the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin said that the Legislature’s remapping in 2011 violated both the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it aimed to deprive Democratic voters of their right to be represented. Finally, a court has been brave enough to take on gerrymandering, and Wisconsin was a good place to start.
The court used a simple mathematical calculation to measure gerrymandering called the “efficiency gap”, essentially a measure of wasted votes. The gap is calculated by dividing the difference between the two parties’ “wasted votes”; that is, votes beyond those needed by a winning side, and votes cast by a losing side — by the total number of votes cast. As the efficiency gap rises for the winning party (i.e. the winning party wastes fewer votes) the level of partisan gerrymandering can be calculated. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law has a good explanation here. Typically, if the winning party’s efficiency gap rises above 7%, the chance of them maintaining their majority increases.
After the partisan gerrymander in 2011, Wisconsin Republicans had a 11 percent to almost 14% efficiency gap advantage over Democrats. The result? In 2012, the Wisconsin Republicans received 48.6% of the votes for the Assembly, but won 61% of the seats. Partisan gerrymandering thwarts the will of the voters, allowing unpopular politicians with less support to beat those candidates who actually receive more votes.
This is the actual voter fraud perpetrated on the people by Republicans since 2000 even though the Republicans use the dog whistle of accusing dark skinned people of committing in person voter fraud which has been proven to be virtually non-existent. To be fair, the Dems are not blameless in gerrymandering either, and I advocate for immediate reform with the establishment of non-partisan redistricting boards in each state using computer modeling with the goal of making the vast majority of state and federal races competitive. With today’s gerrymandering, only about 10% of districts are competitive. That’s unconstitutional, and un-American.
It’s long past time for this to change. A SCOTUS win on this issue is history changing.