District voting and who really gets disenfranchised

Many years ago, I learned about the representative democracy we enjoy from Mr. Hill, my government teacher.
At the federal level there are 435 U.S. Representatives of which I get to vote for one. I don’t get to vote for all 435, only one.
There are 100 U.S. Senators in the Senate and I get to vote for two to represent my interests, not all 100 but strictly two.
At the state level there are 180 state representatives in Georgia of which I get to vote for one. To look out for my interests in the state senate I get to vote for one out of 56 actual state senators.
It seems logical that the varied and different areas of this country would have different parochial interests.
Those folks living in the big cities are much more interested in mass transit than most of us here in Fayette County.
Those folks living in the vast farm belt growing commodity crops are always talking farm policy with their U.S. reps and senators. Commodity pricing and farm policy discussions will cure insomnia among most PTC residents.
Consequently, those folks living in the big cities or the farm belt don’t want me voting for their representatives and I don’t want them voting for the representative of the Ga. 3rd district.
When I look at a Fayette County map with the U.S. House districts overlay, I find that two people represent parts of the county in the U.S. House.
Likewise an overlay of the Ga. governance shows five house districts and two senate districts representing different parts of Fayette County in the Ga. legislature.
In all the years I’ve lived in Fayette County I have never once heard anyone complain about how the county is split into these separate districts.
But now that the county has been split into separate districts for Board of Education and County Commission, I read how the editor of this paper is disenfranchised because he no longer gets to vote for all BOE seats and all five County Commissioners.
Is he equally disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all 435 U.S. reps or all 100 senators?
Is he disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all 180 Ga. state house representatives or all 56 Ga. state senators?
Heck, is he equally disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all five of the Ga. state house members representing parts of Fayette County?
I’ll admit the gerrymandering to create the majority minority district in Fayette County is abhorrent.
And going forward, the voting district lines will change regularly after every census as the county struggles to maintain a majority minority district.
But I’m not disenfranchised because of the new district voting, I’m disenfranchised by political gerrymandering that protects incumbent career politicians at all levels and a presidential nomination process that’s decided before it even gets to Georgia.
And as the county commission and the BOE pursue an expensive appeal of the district voting, I’ll be further disenfranchised by the waste of my tax dollars in the attempt to protect the status quo.
Is the level of hubris among the County Commission and BOE so high that they think they can prevail in this appeal? As the appeal costs escalate, what is the end game, how many tax dollars are these bettors willing to gamble?
So Chairman Brown, Chairwoman Key, tell the taxpayers of the county how much this is going to cost us before you start writing checks.
I look on the bright side of district voting. Whoever wants my vote for county commission or BOE might actually drive my road and see and hear my concerns personally. I can think of nothing more enfranchising to all voters than real, local, retail politics.
Larry Dove
Fayetteville, Ga.
[The editor replies: I am honored to help Mr. Dove extend his civics knowledge beyond his high school government class.
The editor is not “disenfranchised" by the current arrangement for U.S. House and Senate and the current Georgia legislative scheme because I never was “franchised” in the first place.
But in Fayette since I arrived in 1977 (when the African American population was under 4 percent of the total county), I always got to vote for or against every one of the rascals and sometimes honorable candidates who offered themselves for school board and county commission.
Now I get to vote for one-fifth as many candidates. Once I got to vote on 10 elective positions. From now on, I get to vote for two. Maybe Mr. Dove’s high school math can help him here: I seem to have lost eight votes.
And so has everyone else, black, white or otherwise, in Fayette County.
Now that puts the “dis” in “disenfranchised.”
In my opinion, Mr. Dove’s insistence on “real, local, retail politics” is curtailed by 80 percent under his favored scheme.
I suggest Mr. Dove extend his logic past the current five districts. If five is good, why not double that, quadruple that?
If Mr. Dove extends his “retail” reach, we can all have subdivision-level commissioners, maybe even street level school board members. We could call Fayette the Switzerland of Georgia.
Now that would be local government up close and personal, the very best kind, using Mr. Dove’s logic.
But I suspect Mr. Dove’s politics are content to halt at the farthest limit of Democratic Party possibilities within Fayette’s boundaries.
That’s an abhorrence he can live with, I guess.
If Mr. Dove failed to hear complaints about the slicing and dicing of Fayette County at the hand of Democrat “King” Roy Barnes during his misbegotten reign as governor, it was not for my lack of raising a ruckus in these pages at the time. But since the hacking of Republican Fayette into pieces advantaged Democrats, I suspect he put his hands over his ears at the time.
As for Fayette winning the lawsuit appeal, I say it has a good shot at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Forget the Appeals Court; the Five Supremes are itching to relegate the race-quota system of district voting to the same scrap heap of history that contains the ashes of Jim Crow laws.
You want abhorrent? You’ve got two relics in the same sentence.]
Gort's picture
Joined: 07/28/2009
I guess you can call,

I guess you can call, ‘Fayette County the Switzerland of Georgia,’ if right wing “coo-coo clocks’ are used as the unit of measure. (Hey-heh, just kidding Cal, don’t banish me please!)

If Cal is right, you should have no problem making the appeal at the Supreme Court. It’s in the bag, right? Let’s just hope the new Atlanta law firm is more “aggressive” in making your case and not so ‘aggressive’ in its billing policies, eh?

Just to ask a question, if you really feel your rights are being violated by district voting, why don’t you ask the ACLU for help? Wouldn’t that be a curious twist of fate, the NAACP arguing a case against the ACLU?

stranger than f...
stranger than fiction's picture
Joined: 06/27/2012
Mr. Dove makes Perfect Sense

For some inexplicable reason, Mr. Beverly and a large number of citizens in Fayette County who are quite intelligent can’t seem to understand Madisonian republican representative government enshrined in our Constitution. Extending the argument logically, as Mr. Beverly suggests, Mr. Dove explores the logical consequences of applying at-large voting to national and state-wide elections to demonstrate how this would disenfranchise any minority (including conservatives). Indeed, if the Fayette County model was adopted nationwide, Republicans would hold few offices since the overall majority of American voters would select all officials instead of allowing each state to elect their own district representatives. The current U.S. House is majority Republican, but the sitting Democrats received more overall votes than did the Republicans.

Objections to gerrymandering for a specific electoral outcome are very consistent with the Constitution, but the elimination of district voting is exactly what Madison feared and what national Republicans should eschew as well.

Remember, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Spyglass's picture
Joined: 01/28/2008
After seeing this in my delivered paper this AM

I somehow knew you would already have a comment on here saying you were in lock step with these comments.

Not much changes...

Fact is all Fayette voters lost 8 votes.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Can anyone mount a serious case for district voting

without the racial component? I mean this thing is being foisted upon as a result of a lawsuit or punishment for our horrible racist behavior in the past. Knowing that is BS, just set it aside for a second and somebody tell me how one would argue that district voting is a good thing? At the county level, I mean and without all the racist content.

G35 Dude
G35 Dude's picture
Joined: 02/15/2006

Can anyone mount a serious case for district voting without the racial component?

No they can't. I've asked this same question in the past and our local race baiter called me naive, immature, racist, etc. This is as STF says below a power play by the Dems. The NAACP and it's lemmings are being used. I mean the fact that the NAACP asked that no current incumbent be allowed to run again then called Pressberg their man after failing to field a black candidate for the BOE supports that. The thing that upsets me is that our kids are being used as pawns in this struggle. Under At large voting Fayette County has developed one of the States best school systems. I believe that at least part of the reason is that under at large voting each person on the board could look at whats best for the entire system. Under district voting you'll see a mini version of congress where everyone protects their district. The districts with the best representation will fare the best. And that may not be whats best for the system as a whole. I believe that all kids of all races will suffer as a result of District voting if it is allowed to stand.

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Mini version of Congress? Nah. More like Congress on steroids

Smaller dollars to be sure but with only 5 districts and 5 reps, it will be very competitive on both BOE and BOC. And pity the poor BOE member that allows a school in his/her district to close. The replacement will be some single-issue, out of control gadfly - if they can find one dumb enough to run.

And on BOC, just imagine some large road project that uses up all the funds in just one district or a state or federal grant that can only be spent in 1 district. Then picture the various people who might be those reps and tell me you want to watch that movie.

And we need this because this Jones guy and a couple of his neighbors care more about skin color than quality of life and the education of our children - not to mention property values which fluctuate with the other two things. Thanks a lot, Mr. Jones and the NAACP.

stranger than f...
stranger than fiction's picture
Joined: 06/27/2012
Simple Explanation for Opposition to District Voting

Here’s the real issue defining opposition to district voting in terms simple enough for a tea bagger to understand. Fayette County Republicans want at-large voting when they are in the majority (local elections) because they can run the table. They want district voting when they are in the minority (national elections) so the table will not be run on them.

The NAACP is vilified for altering the rules of the game to achieve a preferred outcome, but that is exactly what the opponents of district voting are doing by asking for varying rules by locale. Justice and fairness are lost on both groups because of self-interests, so there are no good guys. The NAACP just has the Voting Rights Act on its side, and will win. Get real – The issue is power.

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