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Sat Oct 7, 2017, 12:02 AM

How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

..... this isnít just a politics story; itís also a technology story. Gerrymandering used to be an art, but advanced computation has made it a science. Wisconsinís Republican legislators, after their victory in the census year of 2010, tried out map after map, tweak after tweak. They ran each potential map through computer algorithms that tested its performance in a wide range of political climates. The map they adopted is precisely engineered to assure Republican control in all but the most extreme circumstances.

In a gerrymandered map, you concentrate opposing voters in a few districts where you lose big, and win the rest by modest margins. But itís risky to count on a lot of close wins, which can easily flip to close losses. Justice Sandra Day OíConnor thought this risk meant the Supreme Court didnít need to step in. In a 1986 case, she wrote that ďthere is good reason to think political gerrymandering is a self-limiting enterpriseĒ since ďan overambitious gerrymander can lead to disaster for the legislative majority.Ē

Back then, she may have been right. But todayís computing power has blown away the self-limiting nature of the enterprise, as it has with so many other limits. A new paper by a team of scientists at Duke paints a startling picture of the way the Wisconsin district map protects Republicans from risk. Remember the Volkswagen scandal? Volkswagen installed software in its diesel cars to fool regulators into thinking the engines were meeting emissions standards. The software detected when it was being tested, and only then did it turn on the antipollution system. The Wisconsin district map is a similarly audacious piece of engineering.

When the overall Republican vote share in the state is 50 percent or more, the authors of the paper show, the map behaves much like an unbiased one. But when the map is tested by an electorate that leans Democratic, its special features kick in, maintaining a healthy Republican majority against the popular headwind. To gain control of the State Assembly, the authors estimate, Wisconsin Democrats would have to beat Republicans by 8 to 10 points, a margin rarely achieved in statewide elections by either party in this evenly split state. As a mathematician, Iím impressed. As a Wisconsin voter, I feel a little ill.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/sunday/computers-gerrymandering-wisconsin.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

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Reply How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science (Original post)
JHan Oct 2017 OP
brer cat Oct 2017 #1
JHan Oct 2017 #4
brer cat Oct 2017 #5
Lyricalinklines Oct 2017 #2
TheFrenchRazor Oct 2017 #3
uponit7771 Oct 2017 #6

Response to JHan (Original post)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 12:13 AM

1. Interesting

but scary. They can lock themselves in for a very long time.

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Response to brer cat (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 10:09 AM

4. yep.. every census year is critical

gerrymandering doesn't get as much attention as it should.

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Response to JHan (Reply #4)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 10:20 AM

5. No it doesn't.

GA republicans don't wait for census years. They were doing more chopping and packing earlier this year. Eric Holder has gotten involved now which I hope will get some of this undone.

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Response to JHan (Original post)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 01:28 AM

2. I'd say science was used to make gerrymandering technically possible.

But then again, I think words matter and I'll bet more than a few people consider my comments trivial.

I also consider the fact science was applied effectively in this way to be a reason the current administration and gop are against science....They've used it in tricky ways and know it's power therefore seek to limit it being used against them.

Ah! the power of power and control!





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Response to JHan (Original post)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 02:01 AM

3. and some people say the game isn't rigged... nt

 

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Response to JHan (Original post)

Sat Oct 7, 2017, 10:22 AM

6. Yep, we no longer have a representative government of the people

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