In the midst of a nation in a state of uncertainty and chaos, a Supreme Court decision maybe one that brings some stability to our electoral process. It could be the end to gerrymandering and restoration of a core principle of the Constitution, "one person; one vote."
The Supreme Court determined that redistricting in Pennsylvania was unlawful. An Arizona case declared that the Constitution allows people to fight back against gerrymandering. A North Carolina ruling concluded that redistricting in that state was racially motivated without proper cause. Although these rulings are significant, they fall short of a consistent method to examine that core principle.
Wisconsin changes that with a theory called the "efficiency gap," which takes into consideration a formula that calculates the number of “wasted votes” in a particular district. It is not confined by a single issue, such as race, as the wasted votes are those votes that just don't count whether they are deemed not necessary for a win nor irrelevant because they are such a small part of the voting group.
The number of wasted votes of each side is counted. The difference between the number of wasted votes on each side is divided by the total number of votes to get the efficiency gap. This gives an indication of which side benefits from the redrawn lines.
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If the theory is deemed an acceptable method of defining partisan gerrymandering and demonstrating the abdication of the one person, one vote, principle the door is open for any advocates of voter rights to contest the partisan gerrymandering that exists and will restore voters’ confidence in our democratic process.
The decision may not come in time for the 2018 elections but could be a major factor in the 2020 elections. That is the reason Wisconsin matters to all of us.
Beverly Sullivan, Pawleys Island