re: [EM] Gerrymandering and PR

Alex Small asmall at
Tue Mar 19 16:58:16 PST 2002

Adam Tarr wrote:

>if you have small districts you don't get real proportionality. In my
>opinion, you have to have at least 5 or 6 seats in a district to get
>acceptably proportional results. The more fractionalized the electorate
>is, the more seats per district you need.

I'm not interested in representing every portion of the electorate.  If the
Communist is polling 1%, and the Transcendental Meditation candidate has
2%, and the Fascist is getting 3%, well, sucks to be them.  On the other
hand, factions with support in the ballpark of 15% or more are more worthy
of representation.

Many PR methods incorporate a 1/n or 1/(n+1) quota (I forget which is named
after Hare and which is named after Droop, not that it matters).  If we set
a quota of 16.6% (1 in 6, not unreasonable) then with a 1/(n+1) quota a
district of 5 members works.  Maybe 6, 7, or 8 members is better.  But I
don't see the need for going above that.

>Ideally, I think that there should be no single-member districts for
>legislative appointments. The disadvantages seem to outweigh the

I disagree.  I think the CA Senate should have PR to make sure minority
views are represented in the more powerful body.  However, the smaller
Assembly districts allow more attention to local concerns.  In Santa
Barbara, where I live, most people, regardless of ideology, have certain
environmental concerns.  In a multi-winner race, those local concerns may
be overlooked in favor of ideological issues appealing to people across the
entire (large) district.

In my home state of WI, although much of the population resides in
Milwaukee and Madison, the rest is widely dispersed.  If both houses should
switch to PR, rural districts will be huge.  It will be difficult for
lawmakers to pay attention to local constituencies.  At least if one house
kept single-member districts there would still be somebody keyed in to the
various local interests.  Granted, for the other house rural districts will
be unavoidably huge, but the compromise would give the best of both worlds:
proportionality and localism.


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