By Bob Gould
What do Brits think about the outcome of our midterm elections? The ones I spoke with, and the consensus of what I read in the local papers, is that they believe we changed our country very much for the better on November 6th. We elected hundreds of new, diverse representatives and passed ballot measures that will impact thousands of lives for the better and right away as well as in the years to come. And importantly, Trumpism was clearly checked. Gerrymandering, however, is a puzzle and a worry to Brits. They question how can this practice that keeps so many voters from having their voices heard be legal?
Brits and Americans agree that democracy works best when every single vote is counted. Gerrymandering had an undeniable impact on these midterms. The results in Pennsylvania and North Carolina are so illustrative that they are even pointed out by Brits: In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s previously drawn unfair maps, declaring them unconstitutional and ordering them redrawn before the 2018 election. That decision resulted in a fair representation of Pennsylvania voters’ choices. Democrats picked up 4 seats in Pennsylvania — sending 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats to Washington. In North Carolina, however, where maps were ruled unconstitutional but weren’t redrawn in time for the election, fair representation broke down. Despite winning just under 50% of the popular vote, Democrats won only 3 of the 13 congressional seats.
These two states are clear proof, even to Brits across the Atlantic, that when gerrymandering goes unchecked, votes don’t count the way they should, and that’s not how democracy is supposed to work.
After the 2020 Census, states will be redrawing their maps and we all have to make sure that they are done fairly. This effort is about making sure every vote counts so we have a government that truly represents “we the people”. The Brits will be cheering us forward in the fair drawing of these maps.