Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Proposed map gerrymanders Wyandotte Co. into oblivion

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 10:18 AM

This is what the congressional district map of Kansas may look like.
  • This is what the congressional district map of Kansas may look like.
Politicians do a lot of cheesy things, but gerrymandering is near the top of the list.

Under a Republican-sponsored plan, Wyandotte County would move to a mostly rural congressional district that touched both the Missouri and Colorado borders. The new boundaries would dilute the voting power of Democratic-leaning Wyandotte County, a tactic known as "cracking."

As it stands, Wyandotte and Johnson counties are a part of the 3rd District. Kevin Yoder, a Republican, represents the district in the U.S. House. Yoder replaced Dennis Moore, a Democrat who decided not to run for re-election in 2010. The new map would keep Johnson County in the 3rd District, sagging the boundaries to include several counties in southeastern Kansas.

Kansas Democrats had warned that Republicans were fixing to stash urban Kansas City, Kansas, into a district that was largely rural in character. If the map becomes a reality, Wyandotte County would share a member of the U.S. House with Liberal, a city that's farther west than Oklahoma City. Democrats also complained that the new map would reduce the clout of Democrats in Topeka and Lawrence.

In some states, the redistricting process is nonpartisan. Proponents of this system say it leads to more competitive races and reduces ideological extremism, which, Lord knows, is plentiful in Congress.

Alas, Kansas has not chosen to go the nonpartisan route. The map will be finalized by the 2012 Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans. If the boundaries survive a court challenge, Wyandotte County may be represented in the House by an individual who lives hundreds of miles away.


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