SELF-DISTRICTING: The Ultimate Antidote to Gerrymandering

I have posted this new paper on SSRN. Here’s the abstract:

It is possible to end gerrymandering by removing the power to draw district lines from government officials and giving this power to the voters themselves. In a self-districting system, as described herein, each voter chooses which constituency the voter wants to join for purposes of legislative representation. These constituencies can be geographically based as in traditional districting systems, but they also can be based on other attributes—whatever associational communities the voters themselves wish to form. If enough voters join a constituency to form more than one district based on the constitutional principle of equally populated districts, then this constituency can be subdivided into districts based on strict computer-implemented geographical criteria without any possibility for gerrymandering. This self-districting system not only complies with the U.S. Constitution; it is also consistent with the Act of Congress that requires single-member districts. Thus, there is no federal law obstacle to prevent states from adopting a self-districting system for both their congressional delegation and their own legislative chambers. In fact, self-districting is a way to avoid the problem of minority vote dilution, a task likely to become more difficulty given anticipated changes in the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the topic. Because of the increasingly pernicious nature of gerrymandered districts, which cause voters—and most especially minority voters—serious representational harms, the alternative of self-districting, where voters are empowered to make these representational decisions for themselves, deserves serious consideration.

The paper is being published by the Kentucky Law Journal (an earlier draft was presented at its symposium). Comments are very much welcome as it undergoes the editing process.

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