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Preliminary research on the betrayal of minority voters and the Voting Rights Act in Virginia.

In this short piece, I offer an overview of the devastating impact of majority minority districts on Virginia’s black voters.  They have essentially no choice in state legislative elections.  This undermines the Voting Rights Act.  Single member districts, along with our campaign finance rules favor incumbents so much that competitive elections are virtually nonexistent.  This is especially true in majority-minority districts.  So, the VRA has been implemented by incumbents in a manner that favors minority incumbents instead of minority voters.

The paper is available at ssrn and at academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/37104513/The_Voting_Rights_Act_and_the_Debasement_of_Minority_Voting_Rights_in_Virginia_2001-_2015_A_Preliminary_Analysis_update_

Latest Op-ED: Richmond Times: Why a Constitutional Convention is a REALLY Bad Idea

Many thanks to the folk at the RTD and the Scholars Strategy Network for working with me on this.

The threat of a convention is real.  The country is perilously close to calling one–and no one seems to notice.  This would precipitate chaos.  There would be no winners.  Read on here:  https://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/guest-columnists/mark-rush-column-the-last-thing-we-need-right-now/article_b4b9459c-49ba-512a-9d21-6e923a926161.html  This little cartoon from New York sums it up nicely.

ConCon

MLB Opening Day on Campus: W&L’s Most Loved and Hated Pro Sports Teams—Round One

This is an unofficial account of the inaugural celebration of MLB’s Opening Day at Washington and Lee’s Ruscio Center for Global Learning (RCGL).

The Center for International Education (which is housed in the RCGL) hosted the celebration.  It was originally conceived as a means of introducing our international students to an important aspect of American culture that frequently is overlooked in higher education: sports.  Amidst the divisiveness of contemporary politics across the globe and across our campuses, the center organized the celebration to highlight the transcendence and global importance of sports.

The campus community was peppered with colors as folks wore hats and shirts of their favorite sports teams.  Banners of sports teams from around the world adorned the RCGL atrium’s railings.   Along with national flags of our current students, banners of the New Zealand All Blacks, Manchester United, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Chelsea added color inside and out on a beautiful spring day.  Passers-by also noted the presence of Dallas Cowboys and Boston Red Sox colors…

As part of the celebration, the Center for International Education conducted an online poll of the W&L community to determine which teams are the most loved and reviled.  Mark Rush, Center Director, announced the results at 12:30 PM.  “Sports transcends political and national divisions,” Rush said.  Noting that “the ancient Greeks would stop wars so that soldiers could participate in the Olympic Games,” Rush said that the poll and the celebration added another element to the celebration of internationalization on campus.

Some 200 members of the W&L community participated in the poll.  Along with announcing the winners and losers, Rush also gave honorable mention to the most creative responses.  A couple of respondents listed several different teams that they hated.  One’s favorite team was “Any team but the Cowboys.”  Another loathed “the NFC East and Indianapolis.”

The New York Yankees were the most disliked team on campus.  They doubled the number of votes against the New England Patriots.  Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Boston Red Sox tied for the most loved teams.  The polling was diverse and covered sports teams from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America as well as North America.

The Center will conduct the poll again–and scores will be settled–in Spring, 2019.

 

Don’t be Fooled by the Gerrymandering Gimmick

This is another piece that I published on Whitford v. Gill, the gerrymandering case that the Supreme Court will hear this year.  It is available at the Huffington Post Website

Many in the media suggest that this case presents a great opportunity for the Court to end the gerrymandering problem once and for all.  This is due to the fact that the case is informed by a measure generated by my colleagues Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee called the “Efficiency Gap.”  The measure is elegant and simple.  But the media are misusing it and miscasting the case.

So long as we have discriminatory campaign finance laws and we use the winner-take-all electoral system, our elections will always seem to be gerrymandered.  Incumbents will remain unbeatable, elections will be uncompetitive, districts will have bizarre shapes and voter turnout will be low.

There is a solution to this problem.  But, it does not lie in any formula.  We need to change our electoral system.  To do so is simple.

A Solution to Gerrymandering

I wrote this for my Huffington Post site here.

In short, I believe we have reached the point where it is clear that our current system of elections is arguably unconstitutional.  It would take a tremendous effort to take a successful constitutional challenge to the Supreme Court.  But, the Court itself has planted the seeds for such a challenge throughout its case law.

 

Beware the Gerrymandering Con Artists and Alchemists

I  published a commentary on the Supreme Court’s decision on 19 June to hear Gill v. Whitford (the  latest partisan gerrymandering case) at HuffPost here.

The Supreme  Court has lamented  that there seems to be no  clear formula for determining whether a redistricting plan constitutes a gerrymander.  So, consultants and lawyers are now suggesting that they have found the holy grail of formulae.

There is no such formula.  Worse than Macbeth’s “sound and fury…signifying nothing”, any such formula will be a quiet threat to democracy.  It will promote even more litigation that is paid for by…tax dollars.  Yet, elections will not improve.

We do need to stop the madness…

A First Step towards Gerrymandering Reform: Less Democracy is Better

I published this in The Hill here:  http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/presidential-campaign/333918-less-democracy-is-better-democracy-heres-why

I recommend that one solution to gerrymandering would be to lengthen legislative terms.  If our elected officials could spend less time campaigning and more time legislating, politics would improve and gerrymandering could be controlled.