Op-Ed: No help from Democrats on redistricting

By Rep. Spec Bowers / For the Monitor
January 5, 2012

Re “House redistricting plan is unconstitutional” (Sunday Monitor Viewpoints, Jan. 1):

It is sad that Rep. Terie Norelli is more interested in complaining about a problem than in helping solve the problem.

She admits that the House redistricting puzzle is “difficult to piece together,” but her team contributed nothing to the process. As one of the volunteers on the project I would have welcomed assistance from our Democratic colleagues; the process really is a mathematical problem much more than a partisan problem. It has been compared to solving a Rubik’s cube, a Sudoku puzzle or a jigsaw puzzle.

Despite the difficulties of complying strictly with the federal “one man, one vote” rule and as much as possible with the New Hampshire 2006 constitutional amendment, we produced a plan that has almost twice as many districts as the current (2002) districting. We have tripled, from 28 to 85, the number of single-town districts.

Norelli provides no details about her preferred plan. That’s not surprising because she likely would be laughed out of town if she tried to describe that plan. Under her “weighted voting” scheme, we would take the votes from one town and multiply them by 0.325 and the votes from some other town and multiply them by 0.273 then add up the votes to determine who the winner is. The end result could be that the candidate with a higher raw vote total loses to the person with a lower vote total.

This is so obviously at conflict with the “one man, one vote” principle that we rejected it out of hand. As far as I can tell, not a single state uses weighted voting to elect state legislators. Not a single federal court has ruled that it is a sensible way to run elections.

Norelli seems to think that this plan was drafted by “leadership” and “behind closed doors” – perhaps because that is how she would have done it. In fact, the bulk of the plan was created by Reps. Steven Vaillancourt, Seth Cohn and myself. None of us would be considered part of leadership, and two of us are mere freshmen. Our plans have been presented at public sessions and have been on the committee website for months. We responded to feedback and updated the plans until the very last minute.

(Rep. Spec Bowers is a Republican from Sunapee.)