Redrawing the USA


Incoming Signals links to a proposal for reforming the Electoral College by redrawing state lines so we end up with 50 states of equal population, thus reducing the slight edge given to small states in the allocation of electoral votes. (It would also mean the end of small-state powr in the Senate.)

I remember being fascinated, as an eighth grader, by the entries in the People's Almanac about alternatives for subdividing the United States. One plan, by geographer G. Etzel Pearcy, split the US into 38 states, with lines drawn to keep metro areas within a single state. Pearcy believed there would be less government spending by reducing the number of state governments. He also believed that uniting each metropolitan area within a single state would simplify providing services on a regional basis -- the sort of thing now routinely accomplished through multilateral agreements between states, such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

I won't ridicule these efforts -- I spent a fair amount of time the summer after my eighth grade year devising my own plan. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the fact that states under our Constitution are not meant to be mere administrative arms of the Federal government, even if they often take that role. And despite the metropolitan identity that may cross state lines around major cities, those state lines mean something after existing for hundreds of years. Different laws have been in place and those have affected how people live and how people think about themselves.

The author of the Electoral College reform plan suggests redrawing state boundaries after each decennial census to retain equal population. This would put an end to the ironic observation that the U. S. Senate races are more competitive than House races, and therefore the make-up of the Senate better reflects changes in public mood because you can't gerrymander state lines.

Here's another effort at redrawing state lines for equal population, using existing state boundaries as much as possible.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 24, 2004 11:19 PM.

Incoming signals: Heavy linkage was the previous entry in this blog.

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