Tilting at Windmills

September/October 2012 Fun with complex geometric shapes

By Charles Peters

Not only have Republican legislatures sought to suppress Democratic votes by passing voter ID laws, they are removing Democratic voters from close congressional districts by redistricting. In Pennsylvania, for example, Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journalfound that as a result of redistricting, Republican Representative Lou Barletta had gone from “vulnerable to iron clad.” A map of his district showed that it had been radically reshaped. What would have fit into a circle now requires an irregular elongated rectangle. This made sure not only that many Democratic voters were now excluded, but also that the most likely Democratic opponent was placed just outside the district line.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.