To say I was flabbergasted when I saw the proposed redistricting plan for the state’s four Congressional Districts is an understatement. It was obvious by the way that the lines were drawn, Kansas Republicans had two goals in mind: taking back the 3rd District congressional seat currently held by Sharice Davids and making sure Democratic strongholds in the state were spread among districts to basically yield them powerless to win, or even influence, the outcome of any congressional race in this state.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with redistricting, it’s a process required by federal law and it’s completed every 10 years, immediately following the completion of the country’s decennial census. The purpose is to even out the population in comparable districts – in this case, congressional districts – so each district has about the same number of constituents. Using the population numbers provided by the census, a group — hopefully nonpartisan – meets to decide how to move the boundary lines for each district to even out the population count.
Gerrymandering is a process of manipulating the district boundaries in a way that favors one party over the other. FYI, gerrymandering is illegal. However, the Republicans seem to have forgotten that.
Their map goes after Democratic strongholds Wyandotte, Johnson and Douglas (Lawrence) counties. Currently, the 3rd District is composed of Wyandotte, Johnson and parts of Miami County. One of the goals of redistricting is to keep communities of interest together. Wyandotte County would be considered a community of interest and in the past, keeping the minorities in this county — who have majority status – together would have been a high priority of a redistricting plan. However, the Republicans threw that concept out the window with this map.
The Republican redistricting plan splits Wyandotte County in half and moves the north half of the county into the more rural and Republican 2nd District. That district covers most of the state’s eastern counties.
To make sure adding half of Wyandotte County to the 2nd District wasn’t make the district too Democratic, they drew some strange and curved lines to cut Douglas County, a heavily Democratic County, out of the second district and moved it to the 1st District. The 1st District is the most rural district in the state and it covers almost all of Kansas West of the turnpike.
With their redistricting plan, what the Republicans are doing is called “cracking.” Cracking typically refers to dividing minority groups into districts in such a manner that makes them powerless. This plan does exactly that as well and at the same time diminishes the political power of Democrats of all colors in Wyandotte, Johnson and Douglas counties.
Republicans don’t care. They’re dead set in every state where they have control of the Statehouse, to use redistricting to help them win back majority control of Congress. African Americans and Democrats across America must fight back and we must fight back in Kansas.
Please join us on Wed., Feb 9 for Kansas Black Legislative Day at the Capitol in Topeka. We’ll discuss how to fight back against the egregious case of gerrymandering and other issues of importance to African-Americans in Kansas. For more details, go to www.myvoicetix.com or the Kansas Black Leadership Council’s Facebook page