California Reform

Proposition 77: It's such obviously necessary reform, even the San Francisco Chronicle endorses it:

A system that allows politicians to draw their own legislative and congressional districts is worse than absurd.

It's undemocratic.

The notion of allowing elected officials to artfully design their district boundaries was unfair back in 1812, when Gov. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts signed off on a redistricting plan that was so skewed to keep his party in power that one of the districts resembled the shape of a salamander.

Today, computer programs that can use party registration and a slew of other data to show voters' predisposition with stunning precision -- even within city blocks -- have elevated "gerrymandering" from an art to a science.

California politicians used data from the 2000 census to protect their respective flanks in impressive fashion. In November 2004, 153 legislative and congressional seats were on the ballot. Not a single one changed party hands.

The system is a godsend for the legislators in power. It is not so helpful for candidates who want to break into the club, or voters who want to have a real choice in an election.

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