FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JON ROLAND 512-374-9585
NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING GAINS SUPPORT
Austin, Texas, July 1, 2003 At its quarterly meeting June 29, the State Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Texas unanimously endorsed the Proposal for Non-partisan Redistricting, and joined the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting.
The proposal would replace the prevailing practice of the Texas Legislature of approving a particular congressional district map. Such maps are usually drawn in a way that favors the candidates of the majority party. Instead, the Legislature would adopt an act that would provide the specifications for the operation of a computer program that would randomly draw the actual map. Whatever the computer program would draw would be the map. There would be no human intervention in the process. The particular boundaries would be unpredictable, giving all parties and factions a fair opportunity to be represented. The partisan rivalry produced by consideration of a particular map would be avoided.
Computer software to do this has already been developed by staff of the Texas Legislative Council, which provides computer support for the Texas Legislature. The program, called Target, can be given the specifications that congressional districts have equal population, that only counties with a population greater than a certain number can be split among districts, and that the districts be compact, contiguous, and simply connected. The program can then draw the district boundaries within a few hours.
At present, redistricting maps are drawn using another program developed by the Texas Legislative Council, called RedAppl, that allows the user to manually draw districts, by adding and subtracting territory from each district with a mouse pointer. As each district is redrawn, the statistics on population, ethnicity, voting history, and other factors are shown. This enables the user to draw districts designed to give one party or faction an advantage in an election, and to win a greater proportion of seats in Congress than their proportion of support in the general population of the State.
Jon Roland, leader of the Coalition, said, "The traditional collegiality of the Texas Legislature had been important for good government. It enables the Legislature to fairly consider good ideas from any citizen or group not just the proposals approved by the leaders of the dominant political party. We need to break the current impasse between the two parties, each of which is demanding a congressional district map that unduly favors its own partisans, and adopt a method of producing district maps that will solve the problem once and for all. This proposal would remove this source of contention that produces bitter feelings and wastes the taxpayer's money."
The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm.
The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/