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How to approach reapportionment

March 04, 2007

Re "Drawing the line," editorial, Feb. 27

The editorial on reapportionment was a few steps short of the needed journey. The problem remains how reapportionment should be accomplished. And your editorial reveals nothing of the intricacies or difficulties of the problem.

Saying "let a citizens commission draw the lines" is meaningless because it implies a solution that does not yet exist. A citizens commission (chosen by lot, or by judges or however) probably would lack expertise. It would have to seek staff, not only to draw the lines but to develop essential criteria by which line-drawing should proceed, and developing the methodology for the database and software.

The answer initially is a citizens commission: not first to draw lines and districts but to objectively study the reapportionment process, and particularly the methods by which it can be corrupted, so such can be overcome in advance.

It indeed is time to reform the process, but in a carefully thought-out and examined manner that avoids having a solution worse than the current process. It is an approach to reapportionment that should be developed outside the Legislature and presented to it so the process cannot be corrupted with loopholes.



The writer was staff director and principal consultant to the state Senate Committee on Elections and Reapportionment from 1971-74 and 1980-82.

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