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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Redistricting and Election Laws

Professor David Lublin, Department of Government, American University
Washington, DC
November 1, 2018




THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MODERATOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. We’re offering a briefing this morning in advance of the midterm elections on redistricting and election laws. We’re pleased to have with us Professor David Lublin, who is with the Department of Government at American University, who’s an expert on the subject and will discuss redistricting, the history of redistricting in the United States, and how it affects elections. And then he’ll take your questions. New York, if you have a questioner, please make sure they go to the podium and I’ll be sure to call on them as well. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Professor Lublin. Thank you.

MR LUBLIN: Okay, well thank you for having me here today. Like Jean said, I’m a professor of government at American University and indeed my first book was on redistricting and with the holidays coming up, if you plug it you could – be sure to remind people, it would make an excellent holiday gift. Our elections next week are obviously very exciting to us in the United States. We’re going to – our entire House of Representatives with 435 seats will be renewed, as will one third of the Senate. All are elected from single-member districts, and in most states, though not necessarily all of them, there are no run-off elections. It’s simply single-member plurality. Okay, so whoever wins wins. A number of other countries use this system, obviously our neighbors in Canada, but also countries like Ghana for example.

The seats are apportioned to states based on population, the total population at the time of the census every 10 years. The last census was held in 2010 and the seats are apportioned based on a fair method called the “method of equal proportions,” though every state is guaranteed at least one seat. Within states, the population of districts have to be very equal, okay, and the Supreme Court has basically ruled that any deviations from population equality must be justified in some way. And that means, for example, that, well, you were adhering to county boundaries, you were – and so forth. And in general, states as a result try to make them very equal in order to avoid challenges in federal courts.

Another requirement is adherence to the federal Voting Rights Act, and that, to simplify a great deal, requires the protection of districts that are needed to provide minorities to elect candidates of their choice. Okay, in other words, particularly African Americans and Latinos, but sometimes at the state legislative level, also Native Americans, for example, have districts that are designed to allow them to elect their preferred candidate. And those are perhaps like two of the key requirements of federal redistricting. Another is that the districts must be contiguous, okay. The idea of what contiguity is, that is that in theory you should be able to get to all parts of a district without leaving the district, is sometimes stretched to the extreme, and that becomes a major issue.

One thing we do in the U.S. that frankly I would not commend to other countries is many of our states and indeed perhaps most of them still allow the state legislatures to adopt the district lines for Congress and the state legislatures, and they often do so in a highly partisan fashion. And both parties will take advantage of this where they can and think it appropriate. In my state of Maryland, the Democrats drew the lines, and if you look at them you will see they are highly creative, not at all very compact, and squiggle all over the states in ways that would just amaze you. So you might want to take a look at Maryland for that.

The Republicans have been more than willing to do the same, and they’ve benefitted from it more in this cycle because in – between 2010 and 2012, they controlled more of the state legislatures and governorships, so when they passed the laws to redistrict, they had control of more plans. And so in states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, they were able to draw the districts. Now, in Pennsylvania, they actually have a new plan this year because those districts were challenged successfully in state court in Pennsylvania and overturned, and a much fairer plan that is far more favorable to the Democrats has been put in place. And there’s been some changes in Texas as well due to a successful lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act, but otherwise things have pretty much stayed the way they are and that gives the Republicans a bit of an advantage going in.

What also gives an advantage going in to the Republicans – and I think this is very important to point out – is that with single-member districts, it’s not just that you get more votes, it’s where the voters are located, okay. Because it doesn’t matter how many votes you get if you never come in first in a district, okay. So if one party was getting 55 percent of the vote and the other was getting 45 percent of the vote, if that was true in every district in the country, the losing party would get no seats, okay. There’s no prize for second place. We see this, for example, in the United Kingdom, where the liberal democrats regularly come in second in many constituencies and get no seats, or they get seats but very few of them, I should say, for the amount of votes they get. In the U.S., this harms the Democrats a bit and it doesn’t have to – in a way that does not have to do with redistricting, which is that the Democratic vote is highly concentrated in urban areas. And so it’s not very efficient, and that – they would often prefer that maybe they had fewer of those votes in some of those city constituencies and more of them in suburban or outer-suburban constituencies that would allow them to carry more seats.

So even if you had a fair – even if you had completely fair redistricting everywhere, the Democrats would suffer a bit from this. We see this very commonly in single-member district systems. So in general, it’s believed that the Democrats need to win not just more than 50 percent but win by more than 5 percent or so in order to carry the House of Representatives.

I’m a professor. There’s always a risk of talking far too long, so I’ll stop here and leave it open to questions.

QUESTION: Hello. I’m Alexey Bogdanovskiy with RIA Novosti, Russian news agency. I just wanted to ask you how many competitive districts do you see in the House of Representatives. And how much of a percentage point lead does a party need in order to be competitive in more states?

MR LUBLIN: Obviously that changes depending on the share. Currently, it depends how you define competitive, okay. Like do – if you define competitive as any seat where a party has a remote chance of carrying it, it’s actually an unusually high number this year, and particularly compared to previous years. And I would say easily 100 of the 435 seats, and even as many as maybe 140, which is far higher than in recent cycles, where the number of competitive seats has been lower. In terms of – much lower.

And the reason for that is twofold. One is because there seems to be a shift to the Democrats going on. How big – we do not know. The Democrats now have chances to grab seats that were out of their reach before, which puts new seats into play. The other thing that’s happened is President Trump has really changed some of the divisions in our politics, or at least how people are voting in very noticeable ways. Particularly the white electorate is changing its voting behavior, and what we’re seeing is that white, working-class voters are moving further away from the Democrats, though not changing so much in this election; they changed more in 2016.

But in this election what we’re seeing is white, college-educated voters, particularly college-educated women – we can contrast to, say, working-class men, who have been among Trump’s most loyal supporters – have shifted from 2016, according to surveys, to the Democrats. And since that’s a new phenomena, that’s changing some districts in the past that weren’t so competitive for Democrats are all of the sudden now more competitive. And that’s – the Democrats are really hoping that comes to fruition in a lot of places, and indeed, they’re depending on it.

QUESTION: How worse is the redistrict --

MODERATOR: What is your outlet,

please. Where are you --

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, sorry. It’s Cese Reverter from TV3 from Spain, Barcelona. How worse is – or has been the redistricting the last 10 years compared with 20 or 30 years ago, 50 years ago? Is it as worse as it’s now? So give us a little of perspective. And second question, why the U.S. has this system? Sometimes I think – at least in Europe, we don’t change borders of the districts every 10 years. I mean, from time to time, but it’s not an issue over there. So I would like to know why this specific problem the rest, I think, of the Western world doesn’t have.

MR LUBLIN: Well, in fact, actually, you do have it. And you have it in Catalonia, where, in fact, in both the Catalan and Spanish parliament, the seats are not allocated proportionately to the provinces, okay, even though the lines don’t change. For example, in the Catalan province, the --

QUESTION: We have that, but we didn't -- but it isn't an because it’s – we don’t change it, et cetera. It is -- the system is fixed, you know what I mean? We can’t (inaudible) the system. But the political power, the parties, they don’t have the power to try to change it.

MR LUBLIN: Yeah, but you should change it. Because it’s – because in terms of equality, okay, the people of Barcelona are massively underrepresented relative to the people in Girona, Tarragona, and Ledo. So you, in fact, do have the problem, I would say, in terms of you have consistent malapportionment and bias built into the system, okay. And that’s – so what I would sort of say is it’s a different set of problems, but it’s not unique.

Better or worse is often in the eye of the beholder. I think one thing we’ve seen that’s encouraging is a number of states have started moving to fairer systems, okay. And there are a number of countries that use sort of what I would call bureaucratic or nonpartisan systems to draw their lines, such as Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I would caution this doesn’t eliminate bias due to the “where the voters live” problem, okay. The UK has drawn their lines very fairly, at least reasonably fairly for some time, yet for at least several elections, there’s a clear bias in favor of the Labour Party simply based on where Conservative and Labour voters lived.

But that’s not the same as the overt process problems that create overt biases that I was discussing. One good news is that one major state, California, created a very complicated but ultimately nonpartisan commission system of citizens that draws their districts, and that’s actually provided for more competition, that we’ve seen many seats with closer elections in both the congressional and state legislative races. And since that’s about 10 percent of the country, obviously that’s a big deal.

We’re seeing increased pressure to do this in more and more states. Some referendums have been adopted in some states. Ohio is considering one this year, for example. Florida has been moving in that direction. But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and it’s easier for the voters to do it in states like California, where they can pass a referendum to demand the change, than in states like mine, Maryland, where there needs to be a law.

I think what we may see in some ways is in 2020, if we have more states with divided control between the Democrats and Republicans, we may see more compromised plans, but it’s not always so great if the two parties agree to divvy up the seats either because you’d like to have competition. So we’ll have to see. I don’t know that it’s necessarily worse. One thing I will say is because our parties have been so closely competitive, they’re very fierce in trying to fight for every inch they get, because things are so tight and they’re hoping to get that last little bit that will give them power.

MODERATOR: Yes.

QUESTION: Good morning. David Mirejovsky, Czech Television, public TV. You said that Democrats were very creative in your home state, Maryland. I guess that Republicans are also very creative in the other states. Could you please be more specific? What does it mean to be creative if you are redrawing the districts? Thank you very much.

MR LUBLIN: It means that the districts often – when you create territorial representation, the idea is to have sort of at least somewhat natural territorial units that are compact and that represent sort of a community in some ways. Now, even adhering to, like, that, you can sometimes have districts that are a bit odder than others. In Maryland, what it means is that, like, loads of counties are split unnecessarily. Counties are our basic sub-state unit. And so for example, Baltimore City, which could fit into one congressional district, is divided into portions of three, okay. There’s districts that go from the Baltimore – from east of Baltimore down into the Washington suburbs, okay. They’re – the lines are very I guess “erose” is the term we’d use in English, very complicated.

And computers have really facilitated this. We’ve seen, particularly since 1990, where computers first got involved, it’s only made sort of the ability to draw districts with precision. And increasingly, we do have worries that – I always think of Brecht’s quote about East Germany, where he was chiding the government, saying, like, perhaps you should dissolve the government and elect a new one, that here we’re seeing instead of the people choosing their elected representatives, that the elected representatives are choosing their people. And – however, ultimately one of the good things that happens is sometimes the gerrymanders don’t anticipate changes in the electorate, like some of the ones that are happening now and so forth, so that they don’t always work as well. I must say, a lot of the ones adopted in 2010 have worked rather well.

But you see – you can have – sometimes gerrymanders, though, don’t have to be non-compact, though sometimes if you know a little bit more, you can see. I remember there was a Republican gerrymander in Arizona that looks more or less like a nice triangle until you realize that the triangle has as its vertices the democratic sections of Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, connected by miles and miles of empty desert which Arizona has a lot of, okay. So it’s a nice shape, but it’s not – normally, you’d think you’d put all of Tucson in a district or you’d put Yuma and as much of another place as you need. You wouldn’t, like, carefully draw out the partisan parts. That is an old plan, though, that’s no longer in place.

MODERATOR: Question? Yes. Follow-up?

QUESTION: Are you worried for the democracy itself? I mean, you think this is a danger and the system itself is in danger because of that? Or it’s not that serious?

MR LUBLIN: Well, I don’t know. That’s not so much about redistricting. It’s a general question, but a fair one. Am I worried about democracy? I’m increasingly worried about democracy around the world, frankly.

One thing I think we in America have had to learn a bit – and particularly after the 2000 elections, which caused us to try and improve the system by which we cast votes so that it’s better and more accurate – is that we often tend to think about democracy as being like you’ve arrived at a train station, okay. Like you’re there, you’ve arrived, you’re at democracy. But the reality of democracy is that it takes continual work, continual defense of our freedoms, and continued civil society for people to advocate for the values that make democracy work. Because while institutions are super important, and you can probably tell I love to study electoral systems in different countries, it’s also about the people in the countries and the attitudes that they take. And I think we’ve seen a rise in some countries of the populist left, but in more countries a rise of the populist right, that increasingly there’s sort of questions about some of these freedoms. But I think we’ve shown that clearly, there’s probably work to be done here as there is in other countries.

MODERATOR: We’ll take one question from New York and then we’ll come back here.

QUESTION: (In progress) Echos in France. Two questions: You say Democrats suffer from these rules today. Can you just give some examples and explain a little bit more about this? And the second question: Is there really a debate to change these rules maybe for the next elections? Thank you.

MR LUBLIN: The first one was examples of the Democrats --

MODERATOR: I didn’t catch that either. Can you repeat your first question, please?

QUESTION: Yeah, examples of – yeah, you said Democrats suffer from these rules today. Can you just give us some examples?

MR LUBLIN: Ah, sure.

QUESTION: Does it mean that – yeah, mean that they have to win, you say, by more than 5 percent at the national level, I think? That’s it.

MR LUBLIN: Okay. A great example is the current North Carolina lines. Okay. In 2012, the first time they were used after they were drawn, which was, as you may recall, a pretty good year for Democrats – President Obama was re-elected – the Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives in North Carolina got a slight majority of the vote, okay, for president, which indicates, as most people suspect, that North Carolina is a fairly closely divided state. Okay.

This was also a year, however, President Obama narrowly lost – I’m sorry, President Obama narrowly lost North Carolina, but the House candidates won. However, only three Democratic House candidates were elected out of the 13 in North Carolina in that year even though they had won a majority of the vote. Okay. And essentially, it was because they were packed into – actually I take it back, maybe four won that year, three the next year when the Republicans did better, the next time they won three. But essentially, three of – Democrats were heavily packed into three districts and two of them were black majority districts. One of them was a liberal district centered on Chapel Hill where the university is. And there was one district that a Democrat managed to eke out a win in that year that then he retired and the Republicans have held easily since. Now, this year the Democrats are hoping that maybe they’ll break through that gerrymander and win a seat or two there, but so far it’s worked very effectively to give the Republicans a disproportionate share of seats.

I would caution at the same time, however, that when a party wins a majority, normally they’re expected to win more than what you might term their fair share of seats, okay, that – I mean, you see how that works in your own country where the National Front gets a sizable share of – or I guess I should say National Rally now – gets a sizable share of the vote but gets almost no seats in parliament. Okay. And that’s because the other parties which are stronger get a higher share among other reasons besides your runoff system.

And so here, generally, like, it’s not shocking that one party would get a higher share than their share of the vote, because that’s kind of how single-member district systems work. But the Republicans have made it so that they get an even higher share and that it’s very hard for the Democrats to get any seats unless they do extremely – any more seats unless they do very well.

MODERATOR: Great. For our next question, we’ll go here and then back to New York.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Charissa. I’m from Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper. My questions are: How do they – how do the redistricters get the data on people’s political leanings to know how to draw the lines? And if unfair gerrymandering can be changed through court cases, what’s preventing people from bringing more of these cases if they’re not happy? Like, is it very time-consuming or expensive or – yeah, thank you.

MR LUBLIN: All very good questions. Regarding the – where they get the data, some of it – not the partisan data, but data on demographics is available from the Census, okay, down to – the Census can tell people down to very tiny levels – not at the individual level because you can’t reveal data about a person – but down to what we call the block level, all sorts of data about the race, income, how many people live in the household. Okay.

And parties through their own databases can – oh, and then the states are able to match it with election result data so they can figure out essentially what is the voting behavior of people in past elections very simply. And if the parties want to take it even further – and it’s not clear to me how much they do this – I mean, during elections now, the databases are quite sophisticated at the individual level where parties can buy data where they may know, like, what magazines you subscribe to, okay, and target messages to you on that basis. So if you subscribe to, say, The Advocate, which is an LGBT magazine, a party may decide to target you on that basis. Similarly, if you subscribe to Guns and Ammo, maybe you’ll get a message from a candidate about how you support protecting gun ownership rights. You could potentially pair that sort of information too.

I think parties rely mainly on the election data which is available. Some states prohibit its use during the process such as Iowa, where it’s drawn by bureaucrats. I believe, like, the drawers in California may – are also sort of limited in how much they consider that sort of information. But in other states, they use it with abandon, okay, like in – clearly in both North Carolina and Maryland, they’re very aware of what they were doing. And so that’s how they do it.

Your second question was about – oh, challenging in court. You can challenge in court based on population equality, okay, but in North Carolina they made all the districts perfectly equal so that you couldn’t challenge on that basis. The other way you can challenge is based on the Voting Rights Act and that provides for challenges in specific circumstances, not based on partisan gerrymandering. So far the Supreme Court has held out the potential for – that you could win a case on partisan gerrymandering, but they have refused to do – actually declare any plans unconstitutional because they claim that no standard has been defined that they find compelling as a way to define what is a partisan gerrymander.

Notably, in the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court case, that state under its own constitution took a different route and the state supreme court ruled differently. Okay. But in general, part of it is, I think, because once they start interfering in redistricting plans, you’re inviting a lot of lawsuits. Okay. Some of it has been also concern about the sort of viewpoint of the justices, shall we say. A lot of people think with the replacement of Anthony Kennedy, who was a pivot vote on the Supreme Court by Brett Kavanaugh, that partisan gerrymandering may be declared something the courts will not deal with and is not a legal issue.

MODERATOR: Here, and then we’ll go back to New York.

QUESTION: Just another question. It’s – right now it’s a common opinion that the Democrats are at some structural disadvantage on the map because the redistricting was made mostly be Republican legislators. How do you expect the map to change after the next census? Will the Dems have more of an advantage or less – even less, maybe?

MR LUBLIN: I would again just be careful to somewhat not correct but add to your premise. There is a structural disadvantage. Part of it may be due to redistricting; part of it is also due to where the voters live, okay, and so that the concentration of Democrats within cities would cause them – cause Democrats to need more than 50 percent of the vote to win even if the lines were perfectly fair, okay.

The – in terms of after 2020, it depends a lot on how the gubernatorial and state legislative races turn out, okay, but the Democrats, unlike in 2010, look pretty sure. They already hold North Carolina. They seem sure to hold Pennsylvania. They seem very likely to win Michigan. According to the latest polls, maybe Ohio and Georgia lean by a hair to the Republicans, but we’ll have to see on that. In Florida the Democrat seems to lead, but somewhat narrowly. The more of those races Democrats win, the more as – since governors have the right to veto laws – I should actually take it back – except in North Carolina, where they cannot veto redistricting plans, so the Republicans will likely still control it there, the Democrats will be better positioned to at least defend their party’s interests, in which case you’ll either see a plan that both parties approve of adopted or no plan will be adopted and they’ll fight it out in court.

And I’m sure we’ll see both happen in some states, as we always do, but we’ll – again, that’s part of the reason these elections are of such great interest, because the governors elected now will be – except for in New Hampshire and Vermont, where they elect governors for two-year terms – be in place after the next census through 2022, which – and redistricting plans have to be adopted in advance of the 2022 House elections. The next cycle of elections will be the last held under the existing plans.

MODERATOR: All right. We’ll go back to New York for the next question.

QUESTION: Yes, just to come back to the second question I had, that – is there really a debate among politicians to change the rules, or is it something really --

MR LUBLIN: I mean, my apologies, first, for not answering it when you asked it the first time, because you did ask. Among politicians, it – I think in some places more than others, but in some states the politicians that are advantaged would very much like to stay advantaged and don’t want to change the rules, okay. I would say Democrats, because they’ve seen themselves as losing from the rules, have been a bit more interested in changing them than Republicans, and in some places a lot more interested because they’ve been losing.

In Maryland, my state, there’s been a bit of a dance between the Republican governor and the Democratic legislature in that the Republican governor is eager to change the rules because his party tends to – essentially never controls the legislature, but the Democrats have been much more unwilling, partly because to the Democrats it seems ironic that the only – one of the only Republicans calling for redistricting reform is in a state where his party would benefit, but he’s refused to call for redistricting reform in, say, neighboring Virginia, which also had a very Republican plan, or in Pennsylvania. He limits his – he doesn’t call for it broadly. And so, again, one can take a somewhat cynical view that people act in their own self-interest.

So sometimes what you can do, though, is harness self-interest to good ends. And so what I wonder if in Virginia, where you now have a Democratic governor and Republicans can see that they may lose the state legislature, that they may have a new moment where they decide that, gee, maybe we should talk to the Democrats about adopting a – some form of other way of doing this, because otherwise we may be on the losing end of this. But that’s just purely my speculation.

MODERATOR: Any additional questions here in Washington? Yes.

QUESTION: Hi, professor. Sorry I got here a little bit late. This may have been asked already – not sure – but --

MODERATOR: Just provide your name and outlet, please.

QUESTION: Sure. Emiliana Molina with NTN24. We’re a Spanish news outlet. I was wondering how redistricting the voting across the United States might somehow affect minority voters, especially Latinos, and if there’s a particular state in where we’re already seeing this and it has taken an impact when we send congressmen to the House of Representatives.

MR LUBLIN: Interesting question. For Latinos, the situation is really quite different than for African Americans, and the reason is because so many Latinos in this country are not citizens, okay. So in a district – and particularly citizens of voting age are disproportionately not citizens, because after all, if, say, you arrived in this country as an immigrant by whatever means, you may not have acquired citizenship, but if your children were born here, they have it, okay. It’s been much in the news as of late, as I’m sure you’re aware.

The – and so in many districts with large numbers of Latinos that are drawn to benefit Latino voters, that actually works out pretty well for them and the Democrats because many of the people living there may not be voters, but they – you still have districts electing Democrats for relatively – Democrats for relatively few votes, but more specifically electing Latinos for relatively few votes, versus if we had a proportional system, they might find it harder because there it’s strictly the votes that count.

Obviously, the Latino share of the electorate, however – I don’t want to overstate, like, lower levels of participation – continues to grow apace with each election, and Latinos are forming a larger and larger share of many districts. I think what we’ve seen is that the share of minority elected officials in many places seems likely to grow, partly because people seem quite willing to vote for candidates of whatever race as long as they’re of their party, okay, and so we see for example that an African American woman seems likely to win a very white district in northwestern Connecticut.

We’ve also seen in some cases what you might call the gradual process of racial succession, such as I view, for example, the nomination of Ocasio-Cortez in New York less as about mobilization around progressives, okay, because turnout was incredibly low, as Ocasio-Cortez was a young, appealing Latina in a district that is heavily Latino, and she really mobilized people and caught the long-serving white Democrat unawares, and so she won. That’s – that’s kind of how politics works to an extent.

And we’ve also seen similarly where Charlie Rangel’s district in Harlem used to be very African American, has now become more and more and in fact now majority Latino. Rangel, after he stepped down, he fought off several challenges from Latinos. The district now represented by – surprise, surprise – a Latino.

And so I think we see this happening. We also see Latinos often able to win even in areas that are majority white. For example, Marco Rubio in Florida but also Bob Menendez in New Jersey and former Senator Salazar in Colorado. And I’d also caution that many of the Latino-majority districts may not be Latino in terms of who – majority in terms of who votes, which means that those Latino representatives are already getting elected with at least partial white support, okay? Because a district that’s like 55 percent Latino may not be majority Latino in who votes.

We are seeing, though – it’s interesting, and so I do think we seem primed to see further growth in minority representation, some due to minorities doing better in existing districts designed to elect them, often majority-minority districts but also some from districts outside of those places where you have compelling candidates. And I’m pleased that increasingly we see parties encouraging candidates that are – and – or if not parties, just simply like groups and outside people are interested – propelling exciting people forward, like the dynamic African American teacher in northwestern Connecticut who seems to have a very appealing life story, a very – who’ll be a fine addition to Congress, and seeing more of this occur.

Racial redistricting has helped make sure that Congress is reasonably representative of different groups, but it would be nice to a certain extent if we could expand beyond that and move beyond that. It’s also maybe a hopeful sign in a time where the parties are increasingly polarized between racial groups, though we’ll see what happens in this election.

MODERATOR: For our next question we’ll go back to New York.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Liu from Xinhua News Agency. I have two questions. First one is how many districts have been redrawn in the last two years involving this midterm election?

MR LUBLIN: I know several of the – like, I would say roughly half the districts in Pennsylvania. I’d have to check and see. I’m not sure when the Texas districts were redrawn or not, but that was only a couple of them. So not many districts. The general big redrawing occurs every 10 years after the census, and the census always occurs in the year ending in zero, and it’s mandated by the Constitution specifically to collect data for apportioning seats, though the data is used for many other purposes too.

QUESTION: Do you have an estimate of the number?

MR LUBLIN: I mean, that’s about as good as an estimate as I can give you off the top of my head. I don’t want to speculate. But a very small portion. Pennsylvania is really the major place where that’s occurred. The vast majority of states have not redrawn their districts because they’re not required to, and indeed it’s not expected that states redraw their districts between every election because – precisely because we don’t want even more manipulation.

QUESTION: Second question is: How do you see the enthusiasm of minorities this year? Why they have a lower turnout rate (inaudible)?

MR LUBLIN: Well, I mean, we don’t always have a lower turnout rate. Roughly, African Americans and non-Hispanic whites tend to vote at roughly the same rate, particularly once you control for other demographic factors that predict voting such as age and education. There are fewer Latino and Asian American voters partly because such high proportions of Asian Americans and Latino Americans are not citizens and therefore cannot vote. However, even among the citizens voter turnout is lower than for white or African Americans, whites or African Americans.

Speculation – a variety of reasons. Sometimes language barriers play a role. Sometimes it’s also the parties need to do a better job of mobilizing people to vote. It’s interesting that Puerto Ricans on the mainland vote at much lower rates than Puerto Ricans who live on the island, okay? Puerto Ricans who live on the island vote at incredibly high rates, okay, much higher than people on the mainland in general of any race. But Puerto Ricans who live in the U.S. tend to vote at lower rates, and part of it is that in Puerto Rico there’s huge mobilization by the two major parties that turns the election into, shall we say, quite an event.

Another reason may be is that sometimes recent immigrants are often more focused on politics in their homeland than in the United States per se. And when you think about how cable TV now makes it easy to get information and to watch television in your own language, that’s easy to do and a pretty natural thing when you think about it, and many Puerto Ricans, who are obviously Americans, may be in some ways more focused on Puerto Rican politics on the island.

But increasingly we see greater efforts to engage. There have been, I must say, criticisms of Democratic efforts to engage Latinos as being insufficient or not as well done as they should be to engage this fast-growing group in the electorate. Latinos numerically are the fastest-growing group. In terms of percentages, Asian Americans are because Asian Americans have now become the largest immigrant group to the country.

MODERATOR: Time for one last question.

Okay. Well, we wanted to thank Professor Lublin for coming here today. And just a programming note. All our nongovernment guests or experts invited to address the FPC offer their views in a personal capacity and do not represent official policy views of the U.S. Government. I want to thank the professor for coming today, and thank you all for attending as well.

Oh sorry, one last question in New York. I didn’t – go right ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you. Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Valeriy Rukobratskiy. It’s – it will be a technical question maybe. So you said that you are redistricting after census every 10 years. But why do you do this every 10 years, not 15 for example, not five years?

MR LUBLIN: Because that’s how we decided to do it when the country was founded, that it would be done after each census, and we decided a decade was a good unit probably because it’s – 10 years seems round to people now and it probably did back in the 18th century. But other countries do it differently and at different intervals.

There is one advantage to the way we do it here, which is it’s less up to the whims of, say, the parliament, that it simply – it must occur or the plan will be challenged in court, and a court will impose a new, fairer plan versus in some countries you’ve seen governments reluctant to move forward with redistricting because they’re worried that it will hurt their party or maybe pushing it forward sooner because they think it will help their party. So in this case at least, we have sort of a fixed date.

I would like to take this opportunity on a different note just to emphasize what Ms. Foschetti said, which is that these are just my professional opinions as a political scientist, and I like to say don’t blame my government for anything I said and don’t blame me for anything my government said.

MODERATOR: And on that note, we’ll conclude this briefing. Thank you very much.

MR LUBLIN: Thank you.

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