Ballot initiatives coming up November 2
I think there may be problems in implications of the amendment language they have set out.
They set out the negative standards that "No apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice"
Additionally, districts shall comply with federal law, "districts shall consist of contiguous territory" , "districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries".
The problem comes at the end, "The order in which the standards ... are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other"
Without any priority, how are we to know what to do? Some fuzzy hodgepodge of all those values? Can I sometimes throw out compactness in the name of preserving existing political boundaries? Must I sometimes do the opposite and throw out a boundary to make a compact district? Perhaps "districts shall, where feasible" is a lesser commandment than the straight up "districts shall" of the previous clauses. In that case, existing boundaries are out, equal population and compactness are in.
Except of course that the 'compliance with federal law' aspect will make equal population a hard requirement, above the others. Ok, fine, that's what I want anyway.
Partisan gerrymandering is measured by 'intent', but race is measured by 'intent or result'. I'm not sure we can measure intent, but I am sure we can measure results. What level of results skew implies intent? What is "opportunity ... to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice"? I wish I could elect the representative of my choice. Are we going to declare that districting shall be used to create faux-proportional representation? Which way of cutting the population cake do we use to decide how to group people together and declare that they get to elect a representative? Race is an obvious way, but not the only way, and probably often not the right way.
Florida will probably yet be better off with these amendments than without them, but I don't expect their redistricting plans to be approved under these systems until some time in 2012 after lengthy and expensive court battles.