Redistricting in Kentucky Redux, Part Deux
by Franklin Clark, Reporter --
Aug 21, 2013 | 632 632 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s 2013, and Kentucky still hasn’t redrawn its state Senate and House district maps to account for the 2010 Census.

The General Assembly was unable to come to an agreement in their regular session earlier this year, so they’re having to come back in a special session, which started Monday.

They’re hoping to be finished by Friday, but even if they were finished by Friday, it would cost Kentucky taxpayers roughly $300,000. They should have done this correctly last year. And frankly, I don’t think they should be paid at all for special sessions, either. But that’s another issue for another day.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to read about some finality on this issue in next week’s paper.

Kentucky is one of 34 states that leaves the responsibility of redistricting to the state legislature; other states have independent or bipartisan commissions dedicated to the task, but whether this makes the process more fair is up for debate.

In addition to making sure the population of districts is equal, and complying with federal redistricting requirements, every state also has its own criteria.

A panel of three federal judges have ruled the 2002 redistricting plan unconstitutional, although House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) is unsure of what that would mean if a special election was required in the very near future.

We’ve written about this issue quite extensively this year and last, and there is another article this week on the front page, now that a proposed State Senate district map has been released.

A lot of work went into the redistricted maps last year, just to have the Kentucky Supreme Court rule the House map unconstitutional.

But really, that’s a good thing, in a way. It shows that the state judiciary is doing its job. And it hopefully means the state legislature has some pressure to do its job better this year. Although they failed to do this in March, I am hopeful that they’ll get it done this time, and hopefully by Friday.

I take this marginally optimistic tone because I see other states, most notably Texas and North Carolina, with districts that look far more illogical and unfair than anything in Kentucky.

The term Gerrymander is an old one, and the practice is even older than the word

The word dates back to March 26, 1812. A political cartoon was drawn in the Boston Gazette, in reaction to the state senate electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists. The caricature satirizes the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Mass.

In many states, badly drawn districts can mean one party or the other is over- or underrepresented in comparison to the votes they receive.

Some state legislatures take it to new heights, looking less like salamanders and more like snakes with rigor mortis. So far, in my opinion, none of the Kentucky maps I’ve seen look anywhere near that ridiculous, and there is bipartisan support to get this done.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at
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