Tuesday, September 25, 2012 :::
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld West Virginia's congressional redistricting plan against a challenge that small population variations among its three congressional districts violate the Constitution.
The minimum standard deviation nationally among districts due to the requirement that states have integer numbers of districts is about 30,000; if you exclude those states with only one representative, it's slightly lower than that. (Excluding states with only one representative, the logarithmic standard deviation, which I believe is actually minimized by the algorithm for allocating representatives, is 3.98%; including those states, it's 4.63%.) (Actually, I think the algorithm minimizes the standard deviation of the logarithm of the ratio of population to representatives by state, rather than weighting them by number of districts, as I've done. For what it's worth, that number is 9.59%, considerably higher, with Delaware and Montana getting a lot more weight.)
Both the state House and Senate passed the map with bipartisan and nearly unanimous margins. The difference between the smallest and largest districts was about 4,900 people.
Anyway, if the opinion is that, with an in-state variation an order of magnitude less than that, making the variation smaller is not an overwhelming priority, then I regard that as a victory for common sense over one of the admittedly more benign forms of absolutism. I'm not a big fan of protecting incumbents, and I'm a bit wary of anything election-related that is passed nearly unanimously by a state legislature, but I have trouble regarding the variation per se as an issue.
::: posted by dWj at 12:45 PM