John Barrow pitches nonpartisan redistricting

WASHINGTON – Athens-then-Savannah-then-Augusta Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow knows plenty about partisan redistricting. Twice, he has been drawn out of his district by Republicans eager to unseat him. But he moved into the new lines and kept on winning. In November he secured his fifth term.

Today Barrow introduced a bill that he hopes will allow more moderates like him to survive: HR 223 would take redistricting out of the hands of state Legislatures and put it into the hands of nonpartisan commissions. The commission would solicit public comment on the plan, which would have to be approved by the courts.

The bill is named for John Tanner, a former Blue Dog Democratic Rep. from Tennessee who retired before the 2010 elections.

California implemented the nonpartisan system in the most recent redistricting, but ProPublica reported how Democrats infiltrated the system and used it to their gain. In an interview during an October campaign visit to Swainsboro, Barrow discussed redistricting and said California is not a good example because it is so Democrat-heavy. Meanwhile “Ohio and Florida [districts] are wildly out of sync with the center of gravity in those states because of partisan gerrymandering.”

Barack Obama won both states last year, but the Ohio U.S. House delegation has 12 Republicans to four Democrats, while Florida has a 17-10 Republican lean.

Barrow also said redistricting has helped generate today’s broken Congress:

There is a very definite cure for what ails Congress, and that’s to take the technology that the parties are using to radicalize the primary nominating process all over the country and turn that technology in on itself and start drawing districts that represent the states these districts are carved out of. If we did that, if that was the standard, we would have a Congress with a bunch of members like we had in the 70s and 80s, much more capable of getting the job done.

This theory does not account for the current hyperpartisan U.S. Senate, but we can leave that for another day.

- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider

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49 comments Add your comment

SB in ATL

January 24th, 2013
6:23 pm

I like Barrow’s idea but the GOP will not go for it. Gerrymandering is the ONLY way many of the repulicans are still in Congress.

td

January 24th, 2013
6:25 pm

There is no way to get a “nonpartisan” commission together because there is no such thing as a person totally apolitical.

Just Saying..

January 24th, 2013
6:37 pm

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 24th, 2013
6:38 pm

To get this passed, the dummycrats are gonna have to do some redistricting first.

td

January 24th, 2013
6:39 pm

Just Saying..

January 24th, 2013
6:37 pm

All far it.

Did you read the article of how the Dems rigged the system in CA? I am sure Republicans would do the same thing in states. How is it going to be accomplished to get a nonpartisan commission?

Andy

January 24th, 2013
6:46 pm

Does john know that the U.S. Constitution clearly states that states will be in charge of their respective elections?

Thus a federal law would be another attempt by Barow (and his buddy Obama) to take state’s rights away. Please review the concept of federalism.

yellowdog

January 24th, 2013
6:49 pm

a lost cause;

Kris

January 24th, 2013
6:50 pm

I agree, undoubtedly it’s the dang Gerrymandering that got us in this mess. I do NOT want to live in a district designated Democrat or Rupuke, I want to live free from that B-scat .

Rumor has it that in and around the gold dome (of crooks), some of the Ladies of the evening are complaining politicians are trying to pay them with Birth control pills,. That’s cash only! You idiots.

Good riddance shady Crooked deal 2014 (sooner if we recall that crook).

John Barge for Governor 2014? Well at least he is educated.

Joe Hussein Moma

January 24th, 2013
7:01 pm

Barrow is a snake in the grass!

td

January 24th, 2013
7:09 pm

Kris

January 24th, 2013
6:50 pm

“I agree, undoubtedly it’s the dang Gerrymandering that got us in this mess.”

Was it the gerrymandering now or was it the gerrymandering 30 years ago when Reagan won 49 states but still the Dems had a super majority in the House of Reps?

J.D.

January 24th, 2013
7:17 pm

This is legislation that is long overdue. Include a requirement that no Congressional district have more than 2 counties that are not totally within the district. With a district with only whole counties and no more than 2 partial counties, the people would get a much better House of Representatives. We are not supposed to be like some parliamentary systems where ideas and parties get seats. Districts are supposed to be composed of people not of specific political beliefs.

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
8:13 pm

While we’re at it, can we get rid of the craziness of state sponsored primaries, which are only for the benefit of political parties? Just have one vote. When you vote, you can rate every candidate from 1-10. The candidate with the most points wins. No more being forced to pick the lesser of two evils. No more spoiler candidates. http://rangevoting.org/MotPlusMenu.html

Also, @J.D., while I agree with your sentiment, I think in practice since we first started having elections, we have people that sort themselves by beliefs. A parliamentary system would make sure that every person’s vote actually counted, and the composition of the legislature would accurately reflect what ideas the people want represented.

charles

January 24th, 2013
8:16 pm

“…nonpartisan commission…” That’s funny. Only a democrat could hold a straight face while saying the words ‘nonpartisan commission’. hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

td

January 24th, 2013
8:40 pm

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
8:13 pm

Yes, let us just throw away our whole form of government because we are not getting to socialism fast enough for you.

Wango Tango

January 24th, 2013
8:54 pm

bwhahahahahahah

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Raw Story (http://s.tt/1yTUc)

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
9:13 pm

@td – What are you talking about? I was discussing the merits of a) range voting, which can be used in our current system, right now, and b) a parliamentary electoral process, which is used by just about every other democracy in the world, including the ones we set up in foreign countries.
You read that as… socialism.

rooster

January 24th, 2013
9:33 pm

Both parties like the current arrangement. There are only two congressional districts in the state that are competitive with respect to party – Barrow’s in the east and Bishop’s in the southwest. That means that both parties have about maximized their seats and made them safe. There’s probably a configuration that would make Barrow and Bishop safer without affecting the competitiveness of adjacent districts. But there’s probably not a configuration that would increase the number of Democratic districts.
The three safe Democratic districts in greater Atlanta are actually fairly tightly and sensibly drawn. Scott’s district is sort of longish, but may be presumed to have strong community of interest, as it is largely older southside suburbs. One might could re-jigger the northern suburban districts so as to encourage more moderate Republicans. Of course that would create more conservative districts to the north. When a district is drawn to the safe for one party, the result is often an adjacent district that’s safe for the other party.

td

January 24th, 2013
9:46 pm

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
9:13 pm

Range voting is another way to say block voting because the winner is the person who can get a block to vote for him/her no matter what. Unless of coarse you thing range voting should be the first step with the top two vote receivers going to a runoff to ensure a 50 plus 1% majority.

Parliamentary governments are the democratic/socialist countries around the world like most of Europe now. They allow the majority to rule and change the laws unchallenged.

Again you just want to throw out our entire form of government because it just does not get us to socialism fast enough.

BehindEnemyLines

January 24th, 2013
10:13 pm

Poster td hit it on the first try: the notion of “non-partisan” is fiction. Everyone comes with built-in biases and motivations, part of being human.

Old timer

January 24th, 2013
10:14 pm

Sorry everyone in power gets their turn…democrats did it for 100 or more year so now the other side gets its turn.

Old timer

January 24th, 2013
10:15 pm

Gerrymandering ruled with democrats also…

Old timer

January 24th, 2013
10:17 pm

Charles…Andy…amen

UGADawg83

January 24th, 2013
10:24 pm

Don’t think this would pass constitutional muster. Each state is allowed to determine how it elects its reps as long as there is “one man one vote,” and there is no overt racial bias.

honested

January 24th, 2013
10:41 pm

Barrow’s idea is great…

But we can’t have it here, because it takes power out of the hands of the former plantation owners, where god has decided that power belongs.

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
10:41 pm

One more comment – you can certainly use our current system, but have entirely non-partisan redistricting. Just have a computer do it – get some folks at Georgia Tech to make the software that draws districts, based upon publicly agreed upon factors (compactness, contiguous, etc.). Make the software non-propriety (anyone can own it, look at it) and open source (anyone can look at the code itself). Done.

Heika

January 24th, 2013
10:46 pm

td is the only thing standing between us and Stalinist gulags. Why else would he post on multiple AJC blogs several times a day?

Decatur on Fire

January 24th, 2013
11:12 pm

Because td has the freedom to do so…..guess you don’t like what td has to say so you want to silence the message, Heika? Now who is more like the Stalinist gulags…those who want to silence others or those in favor of open debate? I think we all know the answer to the rhetorical question.

td

January 24th, 2013
11:26 pm

Matt321

January 24th, 2013
10:41 pm

One more comment – you can certainly use our current system, but have entirely non-partisan redistricting. Just have a computer do it – get some folks at Georgia Tech to make the software that draws districts, based upon publicly agreed upon factors (compactness, contiguous, etc.). Make the software non-propriety (anyone can own it, look at it) and open source (anyone can look at the code itself). Done.

As someone that understands programming very well, what you are talking about can be manipulated very easily. For instance, where do you start drawing the map from and who gets to make this decision? Another unintended consequence to consider. What happens if the district are drawn in such a way that the African American representation drops below 4 in this state? Are you willing to throw out the voting rights act?

MiltonMan

January 25th, 2013
6:26 am

Barrow = nothing more than a lib hack. Where was he and his “great” idea when none other than Roy Barnes along with his democrats loons had their gerrymandering redistricting maps thrown out by the state courts???

BitterEXdemocrackkk

January 25th, 2013
7:00 am

NC democrackkks have filed a lawsuit against, and are screaming bloody murder at the latest redistricting in NC. After 140 years of total domination and criminality, they cannot fathom having their districts redrawn. Of course, 13 term Congressman Mel Watts’ contorted democrackkk district was not bothered. Still, the party of slavery are criminals.

Roadkill

January 25th, 2013
7:32 am

Germany has a far better national election system than we do. It balances local and national representation. As the United States largely wrote the German constitution after WW2, I figure we saw the flaws in our system and came up with a better system for Germany.

RomeObserver

January 25th, 2013
7:37 am

You’ll never get partisanship out of politics. No matter what system you use – commission, computer code, or other – people have to participate, develop or make the rules. That means that someone will try to fix it in their favor. Make me benevolent dictator for 24 hours and I’ll fix every problem this country has.

Burroughston Broch

January 25th, 2013
7:45 am

Non-partisan redistricting = Democrat-controlled redistricting in today’s progressive terms

Edmund Ruffin

January 25th, 2013
7:53 am

Of course he did, and if the dems were in charge of the legislature he would not have.

Road Scholar

January 25th, 2013
8:04 am

td: That Socialism theme is getting old, or is it behind the repubs trying to change the electoral college?

SoGA2ATL

January 25th, 2013
8:10 am

There are plenty of GIS software programs (geographic information systems) that could draw the districts with population inputs and boundaries. The fact that we don’t already do this is a clear enough sign that no political party wants to genuinely let the people be genuinely represented. The US House districts ought to be drawn in such a way to be the smallest possible shape, but represent the appropriate number of citizens. Having a district that runs 100 miles east to west, but is only 7 miles north to south is complete BS.

honested

January 25th, 2013
8:35 am

Just think, without ‘cleverly’ constructed districts as were invented last session, the People of Georgia might have more accurate representation today.
Just think, Representatives attending to business in the best interest of the Electorate, rather than the campaign funders.
I guess with such an option we just wouldn’t be Georgia any more.

honested

January 25th, 2013
8:36 am

Road Scholar,
I guess any day now we will be confronted with the invented repug reality known as ‘Electoral College Reform’.
They have come to grips that without some sort of modification so that an election reflects the will of the dollar rather than the will of the people, they will never win a Presidential election again.

clem

January 25th, 2013
8:53 am

howard

January 25th, 2013
8:54 am

This would do a lot to restore the ability of our elected officials to reach collaborative solutions. Our present system, designed to protect the incumbent party candidate is, ironically, fostering extremists in both parties by drawing districts that are extremely partisan rather than politically more balanced and representative of the voting population as a whole which is far more centered than being either far left or far right.

td

January 25th, 2013
9:07 am

Road Scholar

January 25th, 2013
8:04 am

td: That Socialism theme is getting old, or is it behind the repubs trying to change the electoral college?

Why can you on the left just not admit that you are socialist by nature. You want a strong central government to control the economy, to make sure the poor are taken care of, and to redistribute wealth. This is SOCIALISM.

Pete

January 25th, 2013
9:09 am

Great idea but the Repubs will never go for it. Gerrymandering is the only way the GOP can stay in power. In the past election, the Dems got a million more votes for House candidates than Repubs. But the GOP kept control of the House because of Gerrymandering.

JDW

January 25th, 2013
9:22 am

@td…Dude you don’t even know what Socialism is yet you continue to blather on about it…read…learn

“Socialism is an economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy. “Social ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. A socialist economic system would consist of a system of production and distribution organized to directly satisfy economic demands and human needs, so that goods and services would be produced directly for use instead of for private profit driven by the accumulation of capital”

Now who has advocated that the means of produciton be nationalized…Nobody. You take issues like taxation, health care and regulation and try to spin them as arghhhhhh Socialism…they are not. No one has advocated anything other than a capitalist society with a basic safety net…that is not Socialism.

Shar

January 25th, 2013
9:49 am

Wonderful Idea and long overdue. Make service on a districting committee like jury service – no one screams and hollers over the partisanship of a grand jury, and those regular folks are handed very complex cases every day, all over the country. Have a little faith in your fellow man (or woman).

I’d love to see another step here – no contributions to specific legislators or people in the executive. All campaign contributions must be anonymous and all must go into a general pot, which the state electoral board divvies up equally between all qualifying candidates. Or, if that’s just too radical, then all elected officials must recuse themselves from decisions that in any way affect companies or people they represent.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 25th, 2013
9:59 am

hillllllllllllllary! -

Britons and all other westerners were told to leave the Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday after diplomats received warning of an “imminent” terror threat in the wake of the Algerian hostage siege.

May wanna pass it along to the embassy, duh.

Junior Samples

January 25th, 2013
10:06 am

I agree with SoGA2ATL.
Let’s take politics out of redistricting.

Clmiron

January 25th, 2013
10:26 am

I would like to see a non-partisan solution with court approval. And frankly, with the level of computer analysis available to us in this day and age, redistricting should be done pretty easily be a computer based on population shifts and major geographic lines and then reviewed and checked for issues by the humans on a commission, rather than humans applying their personal bias and interpretation to a map and plugging that into a computer to check the math.

It also seems that in light of the new push to use gerrymandering to disregard the democratic process in electing our president, it seems highly prudent to both address the issue of gerrymandering and the role of the electoral college, which seems to have outlived it’s usefulness and instead become a tool to make most of the country irrelevant to the presidential race. That states like Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio want to further corrupt that system to give MORE electoral votes to the candidate who had LESS popular support (and subsequently votes in the state) is a complete outrage.

The system is broken, and surely we must fix it now or suffer ourselves to the consequences of a democracy that no longer even pretends to represent the will of the people.

missgrace

January 25th, 2013
10:37 am

This would be one of the most positive steps forward in our government that we have seen in a long time. No matter who started gerrymandering, it is time to stop across the board. For those who say it would not work, it is already in effect in a couple of states and it works far better than what we have at present.

Just Nasty & Mean

January 25th, 2013
4:57 pm

Nobody from the democRats said anything about gerrymandering when they controlled the Georgia legislature and Governorships since the civil war.

Now that they’re out of power—IT’s NOT FAIR!!

why don’t you shut your whining trap you big baby!