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[DRAFT] Prevention of Gerrymandering Act

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Terra dei Cittadini
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[DRAFT] Prevention of Gerrymandering Act

Postby Terra dei Cittadini » Thu Nov 24, 2022 12:15 pm

Please review this draft and give feedback on any errors/areas of improvement. Thank you :)

INFO:
Name: Prevention of Gerrymandering Act
Strength: Strong
Subject: Furtherment of Democracy

The World Assembly,

Acknowledging that the malpractice of gerrymandering results in lopsided elections, single-party systems, disenfranchisement, consolidation of unqualified incumbents' power, etc.,

Denouncing the use of gerrymandering in politics,

Be it enacted as follows:

  • Article 1, DEFINITONS:
    The World Assembly hereby defines the following terms:

    1. Gerrymandering: manipulation of an electoral constituency's boundaries so as to favor one political party or class.
    2. Political party: a formally constituted political group, usually operating on a national basis, that contests elections and attempts to form/take part in (a) government.
  • Article 2, EXEMPTIONS:
    1. Members of the World Assembly whose governments do not hold democratic elections shall be unaffected by this resolution.
  • Article 3, PROVISIONS:
    1. Redistricting of electoral boundaries shall be handled by a nonpartisan committee. Member nations' politicians (or the equivalent of) cannot influence said committee in any way.
    2. Instances of a violation of clause 1, article 3 shall be dealt with in a fair trial; if the violator is found to be guilty, they shall face a jury-dictated sentence.
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Hannasea
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Postby Hannasea » Thu Nov 24, 2022 12:37 pm

lopsided elections, single-party systems, disenfranchisement, consolidation of unqualified incumbents' power, etc.,

"All of which are entirely legal and in fact protected. WA nations do not have to enfranchise anyone. Why should democracies be subject to additional restrictions, voted on by non-democratic member states?"

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Princess Rainbow Sparkles
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Postby Princess Rainbow Sparkles » Thu Nov 24, 2022 1:25 pm

A more fundamental resolution requiring member nations to permit democratic elections is required before something like this would make sense.

A fine idea for the RL US. Premature idea for the WA.

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Comfed
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Postby Comfed » Thu Nov 24, 2022 1:38 pm

In addition to what Princess Rainbow Sparkles said, not all electoral democracies include representatives elected for districts or constituencies.
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Uan aa Boa
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Postby Uan aa Boa » Thu Nov 24, 2022 2:09 pm

Also, not all WA states will have a legal system that can accommodate a jury dictated sentence. I have to admit I'm not sure exactly what that is. Is it an American thing?

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Postby Princess Rainbow Sparkles » Thu Nov 24, 2022 2:55 pm

Uan aa Boa wrote:Also, not all WA states will have a legal system that can accommodate a jury dictated sentence. I have to admit I'm not sure exactly what that is. Is it an American thing?

In most US states the judge decides the sentence.

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Attempted Socialism
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Postby Attempted Socialism » Thu Nov 24, 2022 5:48 pm

I'm sorry to be a Debbie Downer here, but this is not a good topic to start your career in the General Assembly. In real life gerrymandering is hotly debated, to the point where e.g. SCOTUS has declined to set a standard for what constitutes gerrymandering, partly based on the lack of objective standards, competing goals, and ongoing expert disagreement. As such you should consider working on something easier. I think that the steps in your draft show some understanding of how the GA works, and if you fix the errors and pick a better topic you will have a higher chance of success. I'll note why this draft is probably not going to make it, but (As I have noted before) there's little reason to think any draft on the topic should solve gerrymandering in NationStates before real life experts solve it. My comments on the definition and provisions are to showcase why gerrymandering is a poor pick for your first attempt.

Terra dei Cittadini wrote:The World Assembly,

Acknowledging that the malpractice of gerrymandering results in lopsided elections, single-party systems, disenfranchisement, consolidation of unqualified incumbents' power, etc.,

Denouncing the use of gerrymandering in politics,
Your introductory clauses should ideally lay the groundwork for why the GA should act, and why this is the best action to take. You're clearly on the right track here, but read this from a different perspective and you can see that it still lacks some oomph. Why would anyone who has been elected through a gerrymandered system vote for this? Why should PR systems even care? Why is a prevention of an inevitable problem desirable, rather than, say, abolishing the electoral systems that enable gerrymandering and instead implementing a proportional system?

1. Gerrymandering: manipulation of an electoral constituency's boundaries so as to favor one political party or class.

This definition shares a lot with the definition on Wikipedia. You should avoid copying from or tracking too closely with other works, because then you may run afoul of the plagiarism rule.
In your definition, however, "manipulation" and "favor" are doing a lot of heavy lifting. Is it manipulation when, in Florida, districts were drawn to allow districts to be majority African-American? Is it manipulation when those districts are erased, and the voter power is cracked and spread over several Republican-leaning districts? Are parties appealing to city-dwellers favoured there because of constituencies based on the city boundary lines? Sure, we might instinctively know when there's a problem, but we might also (Plausibly, just like some of the experts called in to the SCOTUS rulings!) disagree heavily. However, this definition encompasses all electoral districts, so that includes proportional systems. Keep that in mind that every electoral system, even those where gerrymandering can't happen or doesn't make sense, are impacted by the rest of the clauses.
[*] Article 2, EXEMPTIONS:
1. Members of the World Assembly whose governments do not hold democratic elections shall be unaffected by this resolution.
This is illegal for the optionality rule.

[*] Article 3, PROVISIONS:
1. Redistricting of electoral boundaries shall be handled by a nonpartisan committee. Member nations' politicians (or the equivalent of) cannot influence said committee in any way.

Why is a nonpartisan committee the right way? How is that nonpartisan committee selected? By the partisans? By experts? Who sets their guidelines? What if bad actors get into the nonpartisan committee and draw blatantly unfair maps? What if, say, the nonpartisan committee decides that ethnic minorities deserve majority-districts to improve their representation and so packs them together, which is obviously gerrymandering? Would this committee redraw US state lines to end the gerrymandered Senate?
Then, what line should the committee draw in a proportional system? Should a committee redistrict e.g. Denmark's electoral map, despite it being unnecessary (Denmark is a proportional system) and, as they're completely static and predominantly based on municipal administrative lines whereas the seat allocation is moved based on population, stupid? Should they start to draw electoral boundaries in Israel, which is nonsense? But if they don't, why mandate a nonpartisan committee at all?
The issue here is that you have identified a real problem in First Past The Post (And majoritarian broadly) systems such as RL USA, but the definitions include every electoral system, even the ones that can't be gerrymandered unless somehow wrecked in a way that allows it despite the better system. Next, rather than solve the issue by mandating proportional electoral systems (Though that is likely a political nonstarter in my estimation), you pick a nonpartisan committee without any guidance to how it should solve the issue, which might be just as bad but now with less transparency and outside any effective legislation because any attempt at reform is clearly an attempt to influence the committee.
2. Instances of a violation of clause 1, article 3 shall be dealt with in a fair trial; if the violator is found to be guilty, they shall face a jury-dictated sentence. [/list]

There are already resolutions mandating fair trials, and this will be impossible for legal systems without juries (And, AFAIK, systems with criminal juries often let the jury determine guilt, not sentence).

To be blunt, gerrymandering may be too hard a topic for the GA to legislate on. This attempt is not an exception.


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Omigodtheykilledkenny
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Postby Omigodtheykilledkenny » Thu Nov 24, 2022 11:15 pm

So it appears that no one has noticed the glaring RL violation yet?

And I'm seeing far too many references to SCOTUS already, to infer that this is not a problem mostly exclusive to the RL US -- and that legislating on this would not be a horrible waste of the GA's time.

Find problems that might extend to numerous RL nations, so the assumption would be it may be relevant to many NS nations as well.

(Still reeling over the fact that apparently no one knows where the term "gerrymander" comes from.)
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Postby Hulldom » Thu Nov 24, 2022 11:25 pm

Not to mention the obvious illegality (contradiction) of GA 579 s5.
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Outer Sparta
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Postby Outer Sparta » Thu Nov 24, 2022 11:29 pm

Gerrymandering is pretty much extremely hard to legislate on if you're trying to use the WA. For one, not all democracies are FPTP systems or even have designated electoral constituencies. If you want to crack down on racial gerrymandering, then be aware that there will be certain states who have 99% of a majority ethnicity, so it wouldn't apply to them. The US is unique in that regard because of its racial classifications (you can have minority-majority districts of blacks or Hispanics as designated by the VRA). Partisan gerrymandering is where your main focus is at, but how can you effectively enforce your provisions? Do you look at shape of districts, voting results, or some other metric to design "fair" districts and to determine if there was partisan gerrymandering (which is a very complex issue to diagnose and fits better on a case-by-case basis)?

Gerrymandering (if it's an issue at all) is better solved by individual states implementing their own electoral reforms or measures, or they choose not to act on it at all.
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Postby Excidium Planetis » Thu Nov 24, 2022 11:35 pm

Omigodtheykilledkenny wrote:So it appears that no one has noticed the glaring RL violation yet?

OOC
You mean the term "Gerrymandering" itself being a RL reference to US politician Elbridge Gerry? I was just about to point that out.
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Postby Simone Republic » Fri Nov 25, 2022 3:42 am

Comfed wrote:In addition to what Princess Rainbow Sparkles said, not all electoral democracies include representatives elected for districts or constituencies.


Not really needed for WA (but yes I would think that's a good idea for Americans to think about). For example Israel is a single constituency in real life.
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Postby Attempted Socialism » Fri Nov 25, 2022 5:21 am

Excidium Planetis wrote:
Omigodtheykilledkenny wrote:So it appears that no one has noticed the glaring RL violation yet?

OOC
You mean the term "Gerrymandering" itself being a RL reference to US politician Elbridge Gerry? I was just about to point that out.

It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?


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Haganham
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Postby Haganham » Fri Nov 25, 2022 6:11 am

Attempted Socialism wrote:
Excidium Planetis wrote:OOC
You mean the term "Gerrymandering" itself being a RL reference to US politician Elbridge Gerry? I was just about to point that out.

It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?

The issue being that Gerrymandering is a reference to Gerry.
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Postby PotatoFarmers » Fri Nov 25, 2022 7:35 am

Haganham wrote:
Attempted Socialism wrote:It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?

The issue being that Gerrymandering is a reference to Gerry.

OOC: So Gerrymandering with the capital G is the problem?

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Postby Excidium Planetis » Fri Nov 25, 2022 9:28 am

Attempted Socialism wrote:It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?

There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?
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Postby Gruenberg » Fri Nov 25, 2022 9:42 am

OOC
Excidium Planetis wrote:
Attempted Socialism wrote:It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?

There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

There are NS nations that acknowledge Gerrymandering, Trumpism, Reaganomics, etc., in their roleplaying.
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Postby Excidium Planetis » Fri Nov 25, 2022 9:49 am

Gruenberg wrote:OOC
Excidium Planetis wrote:There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

There are NS nations that acknowledge Gerrymandering, Trumpism, Reaganomics, etc., in their roleplaying.

And? The opinion of at least two GenSec members currently seems to be that mentioning specific roleplay elements is illegal, so I don't know how that would make it any less illegal.
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Postby Gruenberg » Fri Nov 25, 2022 9:52 am

Excidium Planetis wrote:
Gruenberg wrote:OOC

There are NS nations that acknowledge Gerrymandering, Trumpism, Reaganomics, etc., in their roleplaying.

And? The opinion of at least two GenSec members currently seems to be that mentioning specific roleplay elements is illegal, so I don't know how that would make it any less illegal.

And you're arguing mentioning specific roleplay elements shouldn't be illegal. Yet given how many NS roleplayers incorporate RL elements into their roleplaying, I don't know how you could get of the long standing and consistent rule against such without also junking the RL references rule too.

(Which, I get, is ultimately those who want to turn this place into a gameplay council want.)
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Postby Attempted Socialism » Fri Nov 25, 2022 4:29 pm

Excidium Planetis wrote:
Attempted Socialism wrote:It's not a real life reference. It's a general term, that we know the origin to, describing a phenomenon in majoritarian elections. Is radio also a real life reference to Graham Bell?

There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

If Trumpism or Reaganomics entered regular or expert language enough to be the accepted term for a generic phenomenon, yes. While the origin of the term has a specific origin, the term is now used generally, referring to redrawing of electoral districts for partisan advantage.


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Postby Heidgaudr » Fri Nov 25, 2022 7:58 pm

Attempted Socialism wrote:
Excidium Planetis wrote:There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

If Trumpism or Reaganomics entered regular or expert language enough to be the accepted term for a generic phenomenon, yes. While the origin of the term has a specific origin, the term is now used generally, referring to redrawing of electoral districts for partisan advantage.

I think this is an interesting discussion to have academically, but usually, it's not too hard to write around potential RL violations - Trumpism --> right-wing populism, Reaganomics --> trickle-down economics, etc. Limitations breed creativity, as they say. In this case, I think writing around 'gerrymandering' is similarly easy.

Terra dei Cittadini wrote:1. Redistricting of electoral boundaries shall be handled by a nonpartisan committee. Member nations' politicians (or the equivalent of) cannot influence said committee in any way.

Going to echo AS from earlier in the thread. What constitutes being 'nonpartisan'? How do you ensure that there aren't biases in the districting of electoral boundaries?

Terra dei Cittadini wrote:2. Instances of a violation of clause 1, article 3 shall be dealt with in a fair trial; if the violator is found to be guilty, they shall face a jury-dictated sentence.

This just isn't how the WA does things. The Compliance Commission works to ensure nations are compliant, and, if they aren't, they receive substantial fines/economic penalties.
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Postby Simone Republic » Sat Nov 26, 2022 1:50 am

Gruenberg wrote:OOC
Excidium Planetis wrote:There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

There are NS nations that acknowledge Gerrymandering, Trumpism, Reaganomics, etc., in their roleplaying.


Just word around it by defining some kind of act of modifying political boundaries for explicit political gain.

Yes I would be inclined to agree that the capital letter G is going to be a problem. There is no reason why something named after Elbridge Gerry (the 5th vice president of the US) isn't a problem when something named after Donald Trump is.
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Postby Haganham » Sat Nov 26, 2022 5:29 am

Attempted Socialism wrote:
Excidium Planetis wrote:There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

If Trumpism or Reaganomics entered regular or expert language enough to be the accepted term for a generic phenomenon, yes. While the origin of the term has a specific origin, the term is now used generally, referring to redrawing of electoral districts for partisan advantage.

This is an argument that gerrymandering should be legal, not that it is legal.
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Postby Bananaistan » Sat Nov 26, 2022 7:39 am

Hulldom wrote:Not to mention the obvious illegality (contradiction) of GA 579 s5.


OOC: This.

The fretting by everyone else about whether gerrymandering is a RL reference is pointless given that no proposal dealing with it could be legal while GAR#579 remains unrepealed.
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Postby This might be a puppet » Sat Nov 26, 2022 7:40 am

Attempted Socialism wrote:
Excidium Planetis wrote:There's a huge difference between radio, a term whose origin is the Latin word radius, and honestly has no relation to Graham Bell, and Gerrymandering, a term whose origin was a combination of Elbridge Gerry and Salamander.

Or would you say that "Trumpism" and "Reaganomics" can be referred to in a proposal?

If Trumpism or Reaganomics entered regular or expert language enough to be the accepted term for a generic phenomenon, yes. While the origin of the term has a specific origin, the term is now used generally, referring to redrawing of electoral districts for partisan advantage.

Yes, and GenSec's standard test for determining whether such a term has "entered regular or expert language enough to be the accepted term for a generic phenomenon" has been -- as it usually was for the moderators before them -- whether it now routinely has only a lower-case first letter (like most other words in English other than personal names & place-names) or still routinely has an upper-case first letter like the name from which it was derived. On that basis 'gerrymandering' = probably legal, 'Trumpism' & 'Reaganism' = illegal.
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