Republican Congressman Files for Re-Election in Wrong District

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 31 2013 5:24 PM

Republican Congressman Files for Re-Election in Wrong District

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Ed Royce (R) is not great with maps.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Some fun news out of California: The Sacramento Bee reports that longtime California Republican Congressman Ed Royce recently filed for election in the wrong district. Prior to California's most recent redistricting, Royce served the 40th district—where he filed in December—but he now serves the 39th, which snakes through several conservative-leaning counties. (Adding to the confusion, Royce actually served the 39th in the 1990s as well, prior to the 2000 gerrymander.)

Royce’s consultant has claimed that the misfiling was simply a typo, but it seems much likelier that Royce was thrown off by the labyrinth of districts created by the redistricting. (Business Insider notes that the craggy, horseshoe-shaped 39th closely resembles a Rorschach inkblot.) With so many malformed districts in the House, it’s quite a feat for representatives even to locate their districts on a map. 

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The mistake was corrected well before the filing deadline, and Royce's camp has asserted that the error was contained in unofficial paperwork unrelated to filing for office. But that's a bit dubious, given that the congressman's associates previously defended the blunder as a benign mistake, apparently acknowleding the truth of the Bee's report. Perhaps next election cycle, Royce will have better luck identifying his district if he practices with Slate’s classic Gerrymandering Jigsaw Puzzle

*Correction, Jan. 2, 2014: This post previously stated that California's most recent redistricting was drawn by Republican gerrymander. The redistricting was done by a nonpartisan commission. The wording of the post has been changed to reflect this fact.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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