FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JON ROLAND 512-374-9585
NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING GAINS
Austin, Texas, July 1, 2003 — At its quarterly meeting June
29, the State Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Texas unanimously
endorsed the Proposal for Non-partisan Redistricting, and joined the Coalition
for Non-partisan Redistricting.
The proposal would replace the prevailing practice of the Texas
Legislature of approving a particular congressional district map. Such maps are
usually drawn in a way that favors the candidates of the majority party.
Instead, the Legislature would adopt an act that would provide the
specifications for the operation of a computer program that would randomly draw
the actual map. Whatever the computer program would draw would be the map.
There would be no human intervention in the process. The particular boundaries
would be unpredictable, giving all parties and factions a fair opportunity to
be represented. The partisan rivalry produced by consideration of a particular
map would be avoided.
Computer software to do this has already been developed by staff of the
Texas Legislative Council, which provides computer support for the Texas
Legislature. The program, called Target, can be given the specifications that
congressional districts have equal population, that only counties with a
population greater than a certain number can be split among districts, and that
the districts be compact, contiguous, and simply connected. The program can
then draw the district boundaries within a few hours.
At present, redistricting maps are drawn using another program developed
by the Texas Legislative Council, called RedAppl, that allows the user to
manually draw districts, by adding and subtracting territory from each district
with a mouse pointer. As each district is redrawn, the statistics on
population, ethnicity, voting history, and other factors are shown. This
enables the user to draw districts designed to give one party or faction an
advantage in an election, and to win a greater proportion of seats in Congress
than their proportion of support in the general population of the State.
Jon Roland, leader of the Coalition, said, "The traditional collegiality
of the Texas Legislature had been important for good government. It enables the
Legislature to fairly consider good ideas from any citizen or group — not
just the proposals approved by the leaders of the dominant political party. We
need to break the current impasse between the two parties, each of which is
demanding a congressional district map that unduly favors its own partisans,
and adopt a method of producing district maps that will solve the problem once
and for all. This proposal would remove this source of contention that produces
bitter feelings and wastes the taxpayer's money."
The proposal is at
The Texas Legislative Council site is