There have been spotty attempts to change the way things are done. Iowa appears to be very successful in its nonpartisan redistricting. The Terminator/ Governor of California tried but failed to change the system.
And one little-noticed piece of collateral damage of the spectacular fall of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was his proposal for nonpartisan redistricting. A similar proposal was floated in the Michigan Legislature, supported by Livingston County's own Rep. Chris Ward, R-Genoa Township. Many of them rely on the creation of independent commissions to oversee redistricting.
As my friend, the author of Republican Michigander blog, points out whenever I write about this, the devil is in the details — it is an extremely difficult thing to get all traces of politics out of redistricting, regardless of how many independent commissions you set up.
He's right to an extent. But it can be done.
It's already 2008. The next census is less than two years away. The next redistricting will be soon after that. If nothing is done, prepare for another decade of partisan gridlock.
We've had some good discussion on this matter. He leans towards a commission system, while I lean toward a computer setup due to my skepticism of the independence of commissions. That's why I distinguish between "nonpartisan" redistricting and "nonbiased" redistricting.
I comment on Meisler's first redistricting editorial here. The main thing I mention is the types of redistricting used.
Six months later was another article with a little more depth.
One of the other keys with the commission system is who picks the commission, and what types of people are on there. I sure don't want the "elites" on the commission. The Joe Schwarz, Phil Power, and those types who really have a low opinion IMO of the public's intelligence at large. That a big reason why I'd rather have computers decide the districts. It takes the biasness and human element out of the equation.
While Meisler and I disagree on the solution, both of us agree that redistricting reform is necessary in the era of either "incumbent protection" or "Screw you" redistricting measures which are commonly used today thanks to the sophisticated geographers and data systems of precinct information at each party's disposal.
Michigan's history is a "screw you and revenge" redistricting. The democrats did it to us in the 1970's and 1980's. The 1990's went to court. 2000's was a screw you system to the democrats in revenge.
In the end, it will be interesting to see what happens here. I know Meisler and I will both be following this.