Regarding the Feb. 23 Metro article “Hogan stresses effort to end gerrymandering at state, not national, level”:
Most people do not know that even though George Washington was present at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he only joined the discussion once: to request that delegates lower the maximum size of congressional districts to one representative per 30,000 people. This was agreed to and the language is contained in Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. The size of the House increased in proportion to the U.S. population for more than 100 years, going from 65 members in the first Congress to 435 after the 1910 census.
Today, the average House member represents more than 710,000 people, not 30,000. That’s because the Republican-dominated Congress and President Herbert Hoover passed the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 freezing the number of representatives at 435.
Without first correcting the startlingly low number of representatives per population, a seemingly apolitical effort with the goal of producing compact, contiguous districts produces a systematic pro-GOP tilt resulting in that party getting 9 percent more seats because urban districts are homogeneous and Democratic while the more numerous suburban and rural districts lean Republican.
If someone can provide better math-based reasoning, I may change my mind. Otherwise I think any effort at producing compact, contiguous districts without resolving deeper, underlying problems is destructive to the goal of better representation and should be resisted by everyone interested in more, not less, representation.
Doug Coleman, New Market, Md.