FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JON ROLAND 512-374-9585
TESTIMONY FOR NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING
Austin, Texas, July 2, 2003 The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting heard testimony today from members of the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting, Robert Howard, Jon Roland, and Patrick Dixon.
A video clip of the testimony can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/committee78/30702p38.ram . To view it you will need a viewer such as RealPlayer from http://www.real.com . See also http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/redistricting.php .
In their testimony, the witnesses rejected not just the proposed new redistricting map, but the map used in the last election as well, and asked the Legislature to adopt a new method of obtaining district maps that is impersonal and not subject to human tampering or political manipulation. Instead of debating and adopting particular maps, the act would provide the specifications for the computer program, called Target, to use in drawing the map, and whatever map the computer produced would be the official map to be used in the next election.
The witnesses explained that each time the computer program is run, it produces a different map. The process is random. But all of the maps will meet the specifications. If anyone doesn't like the maps, they should advocate different specifications. But any such specifications would be explicit and subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny.
Roland suggested that if the Legislature is concerned about the computer producing anomalous maps, the proposal could be modified to have the computer generate, say, a dozen maps, and then have a certain number of "strikes", as are used to exclude prospective jurors during jury selection, to be applied by various members of the Legislature to eliminate some maps. The final selection would then be made from among the remaining maps by random lot.
Roland emphasized that this controversy threatens the precious bipartisan collegiality that has prevailed in Texas for more than a century, which allows legislative proposals from all parties and factions to be considered on their merits. If we allow such devisive issues to shatter that tradition, the result may be that only proposals by the leaders of the dominant party will have any chance of being heard. The result would not favor good or efficient government.
The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm .
The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/
For a demonstration of the computer software see http://txliberty.dyndns.org/inetpub/wwwroot/webfiles/LL030517H.rm