Do we need it? Yes. Is California the place to start? Hell, no. As Brad Plumer pointed out (here and here), Texas is carved out into something that helps the Republicans control the whole national House of Representatives. Meanwhile, in California, we’re supposed to go all impartial.
If redistricting is important–and it is–then let’s start in the places with the worst abuses. They’re not hard to find. At a minimum, start with Texas. Then we’ll talk.
Redistricting was intended as a way of adapting to changing numbers of voters. It has turned into a travesty of democracy where the voters no longer choose the politicians. The politicians now choose their voters. (Discussed also in an earlier post, Democracy Doesn’t Work.)
That obviously has to stop, but who should be drawing the new districts, if not the corrupt politicians who caused the problem?
Redistricting is a mapping problem that uses statistics. What you’re really trying to do is find the most compact regions that have approximately equal numbers of voters, with allowances made for geography, ease of access to polling places, and the like.
Retired judges (who were to be the experts in the California initiative Prop. 77) don’t necessarily know anything about mapping or statistics. I’m not sure why anyone would consider that districts drawn by one set of amateurs (judges) will be better than those drawn by another set (politicians).
Districts should be redrawn by mousy bureaucrats in the US Geological Survey, people who actually do this sort of thing for a living, people who know how to use GIS (geographical information systems). To make sure the scientists haven’t been suborned in some fashion, one could have three sets of redistricting maps: one by the USGS, one by left-leaning GIS experts (Harvard?), one by right-leaning GIS experts (Brigham Young?), and then let the retired judges choose between them.
Note that nobody will do it this way. It doesn’t allow enough wiggle room away from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution.