Here's What America Would Look Like if Politicians Didn't Rig Our Electoral System

Here's What America Would Look Like if Politicians Didn't Rig Our Electoral System

Elections may be the cornerstone of our democracy, but years of gerrymandering have reorganized many of the country's districts into unconquerable strongholds that give one party advantage over other. 

What if this wasn't the case? The Center for Range Voting created a new electoral map for the U.S. by using the shortest possible lines to split states into equal populations.

The result is a cleaner map that avoids the whole cartographer-had-a-sneezing-fit look of most gerrymandered districts. Obviously, the change isn't for aesthetic purposes. By crafting regions mathematically (or in some other nonpolitical fashion), states won't have districts that seriously advantage one party over another. Or at least not on purpose.

The biggest changes: Take a look at how these notoriously gerrymandered states fare under the Center for Range Voting system.

In Ohio's 2012 election, Republicans won 52% of House votes — a small majority. Yet they took 12 of the state's 16 House seats, because Democrats were crammed into four districts (each won more than 68% of the vote in their districts).

Ohio before:


And after:


Pennsylvania may have been even worse. Democrats actually won the majority of House votes there in 2012, but only won five seats compared to Republicans' 13.

Pennsylvania before:


And after:


It's not just Republicans who gerrymander. Take a look at the Maryland map drawn by Democrats to see if you can make any sense of why the districts look the way they do.

Maryland before:


And after:


Congressional maps: National Atlas; new maps: Center for Range Voting

Not perfect: While avoiding devious districts is a good thing, there can also be good reasons to draw wacky lines. As the Washington Post notes, there are plenty of arguments that good districts should take geographic communities into account or offer minorities a chance to make their voices heard.

There are also competing theories of what makes for a good district. Some say that competitive districts are best — no clear winner makes for better candidates from both parties. Others say politically lopsided districts should actually be the goal, since that's the best way to make sure the most residents are happy with their representative.

Depending on your point of view, straight lines might not be the best solution for our screwed up districts. But considering the results, they're probably better than what we've got now. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Matt Connolly

Matt has written for Mother Jones, the Washington Examiner and Chicago Public Radio among many others. He's a resident of Washington, D.C., but much like Bruce Springsteen and pork roll he is a product of New Jersey.

MORE FROM

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."

Amid new revelations, here’s what we’ve learned about the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr.

The picture of Natalia Veselnitskaya is coming into clearer focus.

Republican Senator urges whoever leaked Russia/Sessions phone calls to release whole conversation

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the person who leaked intelligence about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to come forward with more information.

Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort now to testify before Senate committee behind closed doors

Trump Jr. and Manafort have avoided a subpoena and will testify behind closed doors — for now.

Hope Hicks reportedly tried to rein Trump in during explosive ‘Times’ interview. It didn’t work.

The low-profile Trump Whisperer is one of the few in the president's orbit to enjoy job security.

Scaramucci once asked Obama if he’d be softer on Wall Street. It didn’t end well.

The exchange came during a CNBC town hall on the financial crisis, two years into Obama’s presidency.

Trump blasts Hilary Clinton, Comey and ‘Amazon Washington Post’ in tweet storm

He also defended Don Jr. and called Democrats "obstructionists" with "no ideas."