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).
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.
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.
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.