This outrage is directed at something called "normalized vote" and is a cornerstone of just about every partisan fairness metric. The court-appointed 11th member of New Jersey's state legislative commission has used it in the past 4 redistricting cycles
In the 1970s Rutgers political scientist Donald Stokes was appointed by the NJ Supreme Court as the 11th or tie-breaking member of the newly created NJ state legislative apportionment board
Faced with 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, Stokes said that he would vote for the party's plan that best achieved a set of criteria that he had devised, including one for partisan fairness
This was the first time in U.S. history that a redistricting commission used a partisan fairness metric. After Stokes passed away, his partisan fairness formula was subsequently used by another noted political scientist, Larry Bartels, when he was still at Princeton
Stokes partisan fairness measure is similar to the measure that was recently codified in Ohio's constitution (where was the outrage?!), by state courts, and by numerous redistricting scholars the their academic and expert witness work, including myself
How the partisan fairness metric works?
1) compute statewide election results within districts (an average of all statewide elections works well)
2) Create a hypothetical 50/50 election by shifting the vote to a 50% election (eg, if the avg=55%, subtract 5% from each district)
3) A "fair" outcome is considered to be one where the parties win an equal number of seats in the hypothetical 50/50 election
It would be a severe partisan gerrymander if a party received 55% of the vote, but there was an equal division of seats. It could happen if the 11th member of the NJ commission decided this was a fairer division than the Stokes approach used the past 4 decades
The NJ legislature would like to codify Stokes partisan fairness metric to prevent an 11th tie-breaking member of the redistricting commission from being sympathetic to the Republicans and adopt one that could greatly distort a fair division of seats in the state
While ensuring partisan fairness is one of their goals, there is another reason why the legislature is moving this reform. There is an inter-party Democratic fight over who will be on the commission
Currently, the state party chairs appoint each of their 5 partisan members to the commission. In the past, they've appointed sitting legislators. The current Dem Party chair is an ally of the governor. The legislative leaders fear he will select members who are unfriendly to them
The Dem legislative leaders want to codify that they will be guaranteed membership on the redistricting commission, rather than possibly being frozen out by the state party chair. That is what this is all about. It's not about screwing Republicans through some mystified formula
Is the NJ model the ideal way to run state legislative redistricting? No. I don't like legislators drawing their own districts. But it has worked pretty well in terms of partisan fairness and should not be attacked on those grounds
So many people with little to no knowledge of the history of NJ redistricting or how to measure partisan fairness are opining about the "power grab" by NJ Democrats. It is nothing of the sort, and armchair punditry at its worst governing.com/topics/politic…
I guess for these people, a "fair" map would be one where despite New Jersey being a Democratic state, Republicans must get an equal number of legislative seats. That's nuts. We don't get bothered by red states having red legislatures. Only blue states having blue legislatures
So, what will happen if this change is successfully blocked? The NJ Supreme Court could appoint a tie-breaking 11th member who agrees with these folks and requires a new map to have an equal number of Democratic and Republican seats. That would be a far worse gerrymander
More perniciously, these folks are undermining legal and advocacy curbs on partisan gerrymandering. NJ is proposing to enshrine a partisan fairness metric into their constitution. That is a positive move. These armchair pundits just decry this, without offering any alternative
Even the @BrennanCenter has come out against NJ's proposed redistricting amendment. One of their reasons is that it will hurt persons of color. That is blatantly false, and as voting rights lawyers they know this
Let me tackle this argument. Federal voting rights protections enshrined in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment prevent NJ (and other states) from harming the representation of persons of color
The argument could be made that the Supreme Court's shift to the right will strip these federal protections. So far, there are 2 conservatives that continue to uphold voting rights in recent TX and VA litigation, so this seems far-fetched at this time
Suppose the Supreme Court decides Sec 2 is unconstitutional? Having voting rights protections in a state constitution, as happens in CA and FL, would be a good thing. Should NJ put this into their reform? Yes, it's a good idea. But a lack of it does not mean POC are harmed
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

# Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

###### Subscribe to Michael McDonald

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

###### This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

# Try unrolling a thread yourself!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" `@threadreaderapp unroll`