Scott Tibbs
blog post
November 9th, 2005

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"Terminator vs. Gerrymander"

Here's a very good column about California Governor Ahnuld Schwarzenegger's support for a ballot initiative to take legislative redistricting away from the legislators.

Gerrymandered districts are a problem. In some districts, it is easy to wonder why we even bother to have an election at all, given the makeup of the district. That can be seen right here in Indiana, where both houses of the Legislature draw districts to protect incumbents. The 2001 redrawing of Indiana's Congressional districts resulted in a laughable map that puts Bedford in the same district as Purdue University, but not in the same district as Indiana University. The local County Council districts map passed in 2001 saw similar gerrymandering.

It would be beneficial to the political process to have districts drawn based on things like natural boundaries and common interests rather than protecting incumbents. However, as long as legislators are drawing their own districts, that is unlikely to happen.


California's special election

California voters rejected the parental notification measure on the ballot in the states's special election, 47% to 53%. Another article is here. While parental notification is one of those moderate proposals by pro-life advocates that draws support nationally, it did not have enough support in a state that is leaning more and more to the Left. (See my post from September.)

California pro-lifers can console themselves with the fact that, in an election that was largely a referendum against Governor Ahnuld Schwarzenegger, this one fared better than the other ballot questions supported by Schwarzenegger. The New York Times reports that "the spending cap and the redistricting measures failed by 24 and 19 percentage points, respectively. The teacher tenure plan failed by 10 points, and the union dues measure by 7."

I think supporters of parental notification made a strategic error by including language that defines abortion as "the death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born." While this is certainly true, tying such language to a moderate measure that even many abortion-rights supporters favor creates unecessary controversy. In a fairly close election, that language may have caused the measure's defeat.

California pro-lifers should work to place parental notification on the ballot again in 2006. They could easily paind opponents of parental notification as extremists who are unwilling to accept any compromise. This particular argument will be a tougher sell after the parental notification measure failed in a special election, but it can be done.

It is too bad that the redistricting measure failed. This was a good proposal that should have got much more support than it did. This is exactly the kind of populist proposal that should appeal to not only Californians, but to most Americans. I suspect that California voters were not able to separate their disapproval of Schwarzenegger from the merits of the proposal.