Daily Archives: August 4, 2021

The Soft Abuse of Redistricting Power

Here’s a little bad news for those who think Vermont’s political processes are above reproach. The nonpartisan group RepresentUs, which opposes political abuses of the redistricting process, has rated Vermont as at “high risk” for such abuse. Along with such bulwarks of clean politics as Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Florida. Not exactly stellar company.

To be clear, RepresentUs isn’t ranking states by the likelihood of gerrymandering or the historical record or the mendacity of a state’s politicians. It simply considers the legal framework of the process. In practice, Vermont’s redistricting process has been fairly clean. But state law leaves the door open to partisan abuse.

Vermont gets low grades on two points: Political officeholders have the final say on redistricting, and the law doesn’t require transparency. You can see how those points could allow politicians to game the system.

By and large, they don’t. Well, they don’t do outrageous things; they don’t create districts that look like abstract art or imaginary amphibians. But partisanship can, and sometimes does, affect the process.

In fact, we might see a more partisan flavor in Vermont’s 2022 redraw, especially in the Senate.

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