Our view on redistricting: Politicians picking voters (Editorial)

January 12, 2011

From USA Today

USA TODAY OPINION

Picture a country that calls itself a democracy but where those in charge blatantly conspire to give themselves and their buddies a near-permanent hold on political power by custom-designing the districts where they run for office.
That country is the United States.

The ugly process in which the politicians get to pick their voters is cranking up again across the land. It's called "reapportionment," but that innocuous and bureaucratic-sounding word masks what in many states is a vicious game of political hardball largely played out behind closed doors. The aim is to twist the system to enhance the position of whichever party is at the moment in charge of state government — and often to protect incumbents generally from serious challenge.

This week's poster child for such manipulation is former House majority leader Tom DeLay, who was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for a money-laundering scheme that helped Republicans capture control of the Texas Legislature in 2002. With that power, they were able to draw districts that helped consolidate GOP dominance in Austin and Washington.