Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015    Login | Register           

District voting and who really gets disenfranchised

Many years ago, I learned about the representative democracy we enjoy from Mr. Hill, my government teacher.
 
At the federal level there are 435 U.S. Representatives of which I get to vote for one. I don’t get to vote for all 435, only one.
 
There are 100 U.S. Senators in the Senate and I get to vote for two to represent my interests, not all 100 but strictly two.
 
At the state level there are 180 state representatives in Georgia of which I get to vote for one. To look out for my interests in the state senate I get to vote for one out of 56 actual state senators.
 
It seems logical that the varied and different areas of this country would have different parochial interests.
 
Those folks living in the big cities are much more interested in mass transit than most of us here in Fayette County.
 
Those folks living in the vast farm belt growing commodity crops are always talking farm policy with their U.S. reps and senators. Commodity pricing and farm policy discussions will cure insomnia among most PTC residents.
 
Consequently, those folks living in the big cities or the farm belt don’t want me voting for their representatives and I don’t want them voting for the representative of the Ga. 3rd district.
 
When I look at a Fayette County map with the U.S. House districts overlay, I find that two people represent parts of the county in the U.S. House.
 
Likewise an overlay of the Ga. governance shows five house districts and two senate districts representing different parts of Fayette County in the Ga. legislature.
 
In all the years I’ve lived in Fayette County I have never once heard anyone complain about how the county is split into these separate districts.
 
But now that the county has been split into separate districts for Board of Education and County Commission, I read how the editor of this paper is disenfranchised because he no longer gets to vote for all BOE seats and all five County Commissioners.
 
Is he equally disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all 435 U.S. reps or all 100 senators?
 
Is he disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all 180 Ga. state house representatives or all 56 Ga. state senators?
 
Heck, is he equally disenfranchised because he doesn’t get to vote for all five of the Ga. state house members representing parts of Fayette County?
 
I’ll admit the gerrymandering to create the majority minority district in Fayette County is abhorrent.
 
And going forward, the voting district lines will change regularly after every census as the county struggles to maintain a majority minority district.
 
But I’m not disenfranchised because of the new district voting, I’m disenfranchised by political gerrymandering that protects incumbent career politicians at all levels and a presidential nomination process that’s decided before it even gets to Georgia.
 
And as the county commission and the BOE pursue an expensive appeal of the district voting, I’ll be further disenfranchised by the waste of my tax dollars in the attempt to protect the status quo.
 
Is the level of hubris among the County Commission and BOE so high that they think they can prevail in this appeal? As the appeal costs escalate, what is the end game, how many tax dollars are these bettors willing to gamble?
 
So Chairman Brown, Chairwoman Key, tell the taxpayers of the county how much this is going to cost us before you start writing checks.
 
I look on the bright side of district voting. Whoever wants my vote for county commission or BOE might actually drive my road and see and hear my concerns personally. I can think of nothing more enfranchising to all voters than real, local, retail politics.
 
Larry Dove
Fayetteville, Ga.
 
 
 
[The editor replies: I am honored to help Mr. Dove extend his civics knowledge beyond his high school government class.
 
The editor is not “disenfranchised" by the current arrangement for U.S. House and Senate and the current Georgia legislative scheme because I never was “franchised” in the first place.
 
But in Fayette since I arrived in 1977 (when the African American population was under 4 percent of the total county), I always got to vote for or against every one of the rascals and sometimes honorable candidates who offered themselves for school board and county commission.
 
Now I get to vote for one-fifth as many candidates. Once I got to vote on 10 elective positions. From now on, I get to vote for two. Maybe Mr. Dove’s high school math can help him here: I seem to have lost eight votes.
 
And so has everyone else, black, white or otherwise, in Fayette County.
 
Now that puts the “dis” in “disenfranchised.”
 
In my opinion, Mr. Dove’s insistence on “real, local, retail politics” is curtailed by 80 percent under his favored scheme.
 
I suggest Mr. Dove extend his logic past the current five districts. If five is good, why not double that, quadruple that?
 
If Mr. Dove extends his “retail” reach, we can all have subdivision-level commissioners, maybe even street level school board members. We could call Fayette the Switzerland of Georgia.
 
Now that would be local government up close and personal, the very best kind, using Mr. Dove’s logic.
 
But I suspect Mr. Dove’s politics are content to halt at the farthest limit of Democratic Party possibilities within Fayette’s boundaries.
 
That’s an abhorrence he can live with, I guess.
 
If Mr. Dove failed to hear complaints about the slicing and dicing of Fayette County at the hand of Democrat “King” Roy Barnes during his misbegotten reign as governor, it was not for my lack of raising a ruckus in these pages at the time. But since the hacking of Republican Fayette into pieces advantaged Democrats, I suspect he put his hands over his ears at the time.
 
As for Fayette winning the lawsuit appeal, I say it has a good shot at the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
Forget the Appeals Court; the Five Supremes are itching to relegate the race-quota system of district voting to the same scrap heap of history that contains the ashes of Jim Crow laws.
 
You want abhorrent? You’ve got two relics in the same sentence.]
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