Group Launches Petition to Give Old Judges More Influence in Gerrymandering Process

There are a lot of stupid, absurd things about our flawed American democracy. One of my favorites is gerrymandering – the art of drawing up legislative districts that favor one political party over the other.

If you’re part of the group in charge, gerrymandering is a great perk of power, a privilege that should be used to its fullest. If you’re on the other side, it’s a great scapegoat — something you blame for defeat. And if you’re a psychiatrist, they make great Rorschach cards.

One group that does apparently care about gerrymandering is “People Not Politicians.” They’ve launched a petition drive to change how we draw up legislative districts. They want to take that responsibility out of the hands of the ideological legislative branch and into the flawed hands of the ideological judicial branch who will then pass it into the flawed hands of an appointed “independent commission”

Via their website:

People Not Politicians is a new initiative, led by Let’s Fix This, the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, and a broad coalition of concerned citizens who believe in a better democracy. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who believe districts should be drawn fairly with public input. We want to end gerrymandering by restoring power where it belongs, with the people, and create a government that works for us again. When politicians manipulate their voting districts to give themselves an advantage, it’s called partisan gerrymandering. It’s a little trick our politicians use to keep themselves in office.

Our politicians have failed us because they know they can manipulate our broken system to ensure they are re-elected and don’t have to answer to regular voters. So they do nothing to fix our state’s real problems: our crumbling roads, struggling schools, and closing hospitals.

This proposal would end the practice of partisan gerrymandering by establishing an independent commission of Oklahoma citizens to draw boundaries for state legislative and congressional districts in a fair, open, and transparent manner instead of letting politicians draw their own districts behind closed doors.

Just like any professional complainer, I can’t stand gerrymandering. It’s sucks, but as a long as humans are involved in the process, I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon.

The Oklahoman explains how this “independent commission” would be formed:

The initiative petition seeks to amend Oklahoma’s constitution to undo the Legislature’s power to draw the state’s political districts and vest that authority with a nine-person commission made up of non-elected officials from different political parties.

Six of the commissioners would be chosen by a panel of retired Oklahoma judges led by the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Those six commission members would then choose the remaining three commissioners. Altogether, three of the commissioners would be Republicans, three would be Democrats and three would be unaffiliated with either of the state’s largest political parties.

Yeah, if there’s one thing we’ve learned by watching the federal bench, state courts and Judge Judy over the years, it’s that judges are 100% fair, objective and totally impartial, especially when it comes to ruling on controversial issues that are split on ideological grounds. They never let their own political leanings or party loyalties affect their decision-making, and as we know, they’re great with numbers.

Seriously, transferring the responsibility of mapping electoral boundaries from elected legislators to a panel of retired judges who will then apppoint political cronies is an excellent idea! Who cares that those unelected judges are retired for a reason, and may have their own conflicts of interest, political loyalties or wrestling personalities to deal with when making appointments. Unless you read stuff like this, this or even this, all judges have impeccable character and can always be trusted.

Well, at least compared to Oklahoma lawmakers.

The commission would be tasked with drawing compact districts that do not unduly favor any political party or disenfranchise minority groups from electing the representatives of their choosing.

Although I’m skeptical these reforms would amount to much actual reform (and probably won’t as long as humans are involved), you can learn more about the petition drive over at PeopleNotPoliticians.org. They need 177,958 signatures to get it on the ballot. That sounds like a lot, but as long as they hire whoever was in charge of the Medicaid petition, they may be fine.