Each district shall have no more than six edges. An edge shall be a continuous segment of a pre-existing, generally-acknowledged boundary, either physical (river, coastline, uninhabitable mountain ridge, numbered non-residential highway), or political (city, county, or state lines). If using political lines, these lines must have been in place for at least 20 years prior to the current redistricting effort.
This rule would allow for a long snaky district if, for example, that district was captured between a mountain ridge and the coast; such a district might well represent a community of common interest, with residents at either end interacting more with each other than with residents of towns on the other side of the ridge that are closer (as the crow flies) but not actually as accessible.
A similar line of proposals focus on preserving representation of local interests. RealMassLibertarian would prohibit breaking communities across districts: "each town or city should be part of a single district if not a district itself." seed_drill would use counties as the benchmark but also advances a proposal that would create smaller districts—adding more representatives to the House:
I believe a new representative should be added for every 500,000 people, which would both curb that issue and address the problem with districts getting too large for meaningful representation.
Heading off in the other direction, many posters advocate abolishing districts entirely. fozzy would simply create a single statewide Congressional district with proportional voting:
Geographic voting boundaries are rooted largely in a past that is, well, long past. Geographic mobility is so great, and districts now have so many voters (due to a cap on congressional seats), that their character has changed vastly. They no longer represent relatively cohesive populations.
Writing in from Switzerland, andreas offers a firsthand endorsement of such a system.
Not everyone finds fault with the maps. gaoxiaen blames the gatekeepers of the ballot—a party system with too much control over who is allowed to run at all.
Tom_Tildrum despairs that the problem of gerrymandering can ever be solved:
The reason gerrymandering is insoluble is because the goals of fairness are irremediably contradictory. […] These goals interfere with one another. Fostering competition and managing geographical compactness work against ensuring minority representation. Limiting redistricting to once a decade works against reflecting the state's overall balance. And so on.
After surveying the discussion, Fray Editor feels optimistic that, with enough thoughtful attention and careful deliberation of this kind, some kind of acceptable solution or workable compromise should be within reach. It's not too late to add your voice to the debate in our Politics Fray. GA ... 3:40am PST
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Slate's Easter week coverage tracks the full range of the Passion narrative, for those wishing to contemplate the Christian faith on its holiest of days. Christopher Hitchens discusses the theology of betrayal in "Judas Saves." Rev. Chloe Breyer, an Epsicopalian minister, reflects upon the significance of the missing body of Christ in "Jesus' Bones." Mark Oppenheimer's obituary of radical Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr. injects an element of Christian death, while Troy Patterson's review of TV's God or the Girl touches upon the struggles of Christian life. To cap matters off, Richard Wightman Fox surveys the debate about Christ's divinity within humanity.
Religion is a perennial favorite topic among many of our readers. Our Faith-Based Fray might be a world-record contender for "most heterodox Bible study." Evangelical atheists, secular Protestants, and pagan apologists exchange ideas in a bazaar of beliefs that would shock the stockings off any grand inquisitor.
In response to "Judas Saves," janeR tries to make sense of the sinner's paradox behind Jesus' crucifixion:
The big glitch in the whole crucifixion story for me is that if anyone had acted with basic human kindness and mercy, Jesus would never have been killed. And evidently, from the Bible's perspective, everyone would have been damned to hell for an act of goodness.