Political science take home test #3

Political science take home test #3 - Victor Giotto Third...

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Victor Giotto Third Take Home Examination Professor Deutchman Political Science 110 1. reapportionment versus gerrymandering Reapportionment occurs after a state census takes place, which occurs every 10 years in order to properly account for each state’s House of Representative seat counts. States that have increased in population since the last census will gain additional House seats and states that have lost population will lose seats. Regardless if the state gains or forfeits seats, the state is required by law to readjust the districts within the state to be as near in population as possible (Patterson, page 272). Reapportionment ensures that each member of the House elected represents roughly an equal amount of people within the state. The districts are drawn up by state government. The leaders of the state government recognize redistricting as a tool they could use to their advantage. There are many different ways to break up districts into roughly equal population sizes so it then turns into the question of which way is going to benefit their party more. This is where the term Gerrymandering is in practice, the redrawing of districts in a way that favors your political party. Gerrymandering comes from a cartoonist named Elkanah Tinsdale, who joked about governor Elbridge Gerry’s redistricting of Massachusetts in a cartoon in 1812. Tinsdale said that the way Governor Gerry shaped the districts it resembled a salamander and called it a “Gerry-mander” (Patterson, page 373). Incumbents are the principal recipients of gerrymandering benefits due to the fact that when reelections come up, party leaders know to put enough of its party’s voters in the incumbent’s districts. In a New York Times article titled How to Tilt an Election through Redistricting” it talks about how in 2000 Republicans gerrymandered districts in attempts to hold more House seats. “When Pennsylvania lost two seats in Congress to the booming Sun Belt in 2000, the Republicans who controlled state government redrew the map of Congressional
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districts to pack Republican voters into as many districts as possible.” (Times, September 25 2010). This demonstrates that Republicans hoped to use the 2000 reapportionment in Pennsylvania as a means to gerrymander districts in hopes of picking up seats. Gerrymandering is something that has a bad connotation when average Americans think about it; it demonstrates abuse of power, and using current power to ensure future power for your political party. Iowa is the only state which uses a non partisan 3’d party group to redraw the district lines during reapportionment. More states might want to consider adopting a similar method to ensure election fairness. 2. standing, select and joint committees A standing committee is a permanent committee which has responsibility for particular areas of public policy. Currently there are twenty standing committees in the House and sixteen in the senate. Each chamber has different standing committees which are responsible to be experts on certain subjects. For example some might deal with foreign policy issues while other
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