The American system of voting is under fierce assault launched by a federal district court in Wisconsin, which is attempting to straitjacket voters to make sure enough Democrats are in the state legislature.
As North Carolina attorney Thomas Ascik writes in The Federalist, the court is attempting to throw out the results of the last four elections in Wisconsin by declaring that the Republican-controlled state legislature has gerrymandered the state’s districts to give more seats to Republicans. That ruling came in late November, as the court ruled state attorneys and the voters who challenged the old maps 45 days to offer suggestions. The state’s lawyers said they would appeal the 2-1 ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court,
Even though the court acknowledges that Wisconsin’s redistricting plan was based on “traditional districting principles” of compactness, contiguity, and respect for political subdivisions, as Ascik points out, the court ruled that a voter “efficiency gap” existed that had caused the Democrats to have “wasted votes” in districts that they won by too much of a margin. The “efficiency gap” term was invented by the “efficiency gap” by professors Nicholas Stephanopoulos of the University of Chicago Law School and Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of California.
The court stated that the supposed “political gerrymandering” by the Republican-controlled state legislature violated the Equal Protection Clause, even though the Supreme Court has never reached such a conclusion.
Ascik explains, “In Article I, Section 4’s language about the ‘time, place, and manner’ of holding elections for the federal House and Senate, the Constitution provides that state legislatures shall draw up voting districts for elections to the U.S. House. The Constitution says nothing about the drawing up of legislative districts for state offices.”
Ascik traces the history of SCOTUS cases that are germane to the court’s argument, including Davis v. Bandemer (1986), in which SCOTUS ruled that claims of political gerrymandering could be adjudicated, and Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004), which overruled Bandemer.
But the Wisconsin court decided to compare the number of state legislative seats won by each party to the total statewide popular vote for those seats, writing, “In 2012, Republican voters garnered 48.6% of the [statewide] vote, but secured 60 seats in the Assembly [the state house]. In 2014, Republicans increased their vote percentage to 52 and secured 63 Assembly seats.”
Bingo. The court than spoke of the voter “efficiency gap” and “wasted votes,” arguing that Democrats could have used the wasted votes to be more competitive in other districts.
Ascik acidly notes:
The court attributes almost no significance to the fact that the Republicans won control of the state legislature in the 2010 elections, not the 2012 or 2014 elections, under a redistricting plan put into effect by the court itself . . . In measuring statewide “wasted votes” for state legislative offices, the efficiency gap does not take into account that voters do not vote statewide. They vote for individual candidates in individual districts. Nor do they necessarily vote by party.
The “efficiency gap” and “wasted votes” calculations may sound rather simple, but they are in fact based on sophisticated statistical interpretations by experts involving software models, regression analyses, and “S curves.” That is, unlike the act of voting, they are removed from the comprehension of the vast majority of citizens. So, the new model elections will be decided by these new means. Thus, voting, the first act of citizenship, will be regulated by courts and the experts they give credence to.