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June 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-4


Mal-apportionment and the Miracle of Iowa





[1] The order of the authors is alphabetical. An earlier version of this paper entitled “There’s Nothing Fair about the Illinois Map: An Examination of the Reapportionment Process in Illinois” was created for presentation at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s Spring 2013 Conference on Redistricting in Illinois. The authors wish to thank the Simon Institute, the Joyce Foundation, and the McCormick Foundation for their financial support of the project.
[2] Bernard Crick, Democracy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, pp. 11-13.
[3] Ibid., p. 91.
[4] Christian W. Haerpfer et al., Democratization, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009, p. 12.
[5] Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” American Political Science Review, 53, March, pp. 69-105.
[6] Crick, op. cit., p. 92.
[7] Andrew Gilligan, “Excited Libyans vote hopefully - and remember sacrifices that made elections possible,” The Telegraph, July 7, 2012, <>, accessed on July 26, 2012; Gwen Ifill, “Egypt’s Historic Election: ‘Even the Most Jaded Were Moved’,” PBS Newshour, May 23, 2012,, accessed on July 26, 2012.
[8] Nick Miroff, “Mexico Ready to Vote: Watchful for Fraud,” Washington Post online, June 22, 2012, <>, accessed on July 17, 2012.
[9] Jane Araf, “Allegations of Fraud as Iraq Election Results Trickle In,” Christian Science Monitor Online, March 11, 2010, <>, accessed on January 11, 2012.
[10] Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, “New Evidence of Widespread Fraud in Afghanistan Election Uncovered,” Guardian Online, September 18, 2009, <>, accessed January 11, 2012.
[11] “Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory in Egyptian Presidential Vote,” CNN online, June 17, 2012, <>, accessed on July 26, 2012.
[12] Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1943, p. 271.
[13] Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 1886.
[14] Kramer v. Union Free School District, 395 U. S. 621, 1969.
[15] The early example of this, which gave us the label “gerrymander,” took place in Massachusetts after the 1800 census. Governor Gerry and his fellow partisans in the state legislature drew up very convoluted districts for their partisan advantage. A political cartoonist of the time added wings, talons, and the head of a salamander to one of the districts which struck him as resembling a salamander and dubbed it “Gerry’s Salamander” in a newspaper cartoon. The phrase caught on as a description of drawing political boundaries for partisan advantage, and over time was shortened to gerrymandering.
[16] Richard L. Engstrom, “The Post-2000 Round of Redistricting: An Entangled Thicket within the Federal System,” Publius, 32, Autumn 2002, pp. 51-70.
[17] Mary Jo Pitzl, “Arizona District Redrawing Politically Charged,” The Arizona Republic, August 13, 2011, <>, accessed on July 26, 2012; Mary Jo Pitzl, “Arizona Redistricting Chief Ousted,” The Arizona Republic, November 2, 2011, <>, accessed on July 26, 2012; Mathis v. Brewer, _____ ARIZ _____, 2012, <>, accessed on August 17, 2012.
[18] “DOJ Approves All AZ Redistricting Maps,” Prescott News, April 26, 2012, <>, August 17, 2012.
[19] “Arizona Redistricting Maps Challenged by Lawsuits,” Arizona Republic, April 27, 2012, <>, accessed on August 17, 2012; Rebekah L. Sanders, “Arizona Election Adds to the Debate Over Redistricting,” The Republic/, November 23, 2012, <>, accessed on April 12, 2013.
[20] Steve Bickerstaff, Lines in the Sand: Congressional Redistricting in Texas and the Downfall of Tom DeLay, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2007.
[21] Aaron Blake, “Illinois Redistricting Plan: DeLay Lite?” Washington Post Online, The Fix, May 31, 2011, <>, accessed on July 26, 2012.
[22] Seymour Martin Lipset and Jason M. Lakin, The Democratic Century, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 2004, p. 27.
[23] Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1991, p. 7.
[24] “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Redistricting, but Were Afraid to Ask,” American Civil Liberties Union, 2010, p. 11,>, accessed on July 17, 2012; “Redistricting Strategies used to dilute minority voting strength: Packing, Cracking, Stacking, and Stovepiping; and Swing Districts, Phantom Districts and Aberration Districts,” Southern Coalition for Social Justice Training on Political Redistricting, 2010, <>, accessed on July 9, 2012.
[25] According to the US Census Bureau, whites comprise 93 percent of Iowa’s population: <>, accessed on May 29, 2013.
[26] Charles S. Bullock, III, Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America, Roman and Littlefield, New York, 2010; Jonathan Windburn, The Realities of Redistricting: Following the Rules and Limiting Gerrymandering in State Legislative Redistricting, Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 2008.
[27] Davis v. Bandemer, 478 US 109, 1986; Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 US 267, 2004.
[28] Vieth v. Jubelirer; League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 US 399, 2006.
[29] Bullock, p. 127.
[30] Ibid., pp. 126-127.
[31] “Record Amount of House Incumbents Lose,” Left and Right News, November 9, 2012, <>, accessed August 17, 2012.
[32] Sam Hirsh, “The United States House of Representatives: What Went Wrong in the Latest Round of Congressional Redistricting,” Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy, 2, June 2003, pp. 179-216.
[33] Tim Storey, “2002 State Legislative Elections,” Spectrum: The Journal of State Government, 76, Winter 2003, pp. 7-11. It should be noted that some commentators argue that the reason for the low turnover and increased partisanship in recent elections has more to do with changes in the electorate than with the redistricting process (see, e.g., Alan Abramowitz, Brad Alexander, and Matthew Gunning, “Don’t Blame Redistricting for Uncompetitive Elections,” PS: Political Science & Politics, XXXIX, January 2006, pp. 87-90).
[34] Storey, p. 7.
[35] Jonathan Windburn, The Realities of Redistricting: Following the Rules and Limiting Gerrymandering in State Legislative Redistricting, Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 2008.
[36] Ibid., p. 199.
[37] Donald P. Racheter, Iowa Government and Politics, 8th ed., Octagon Press Muscatine, IA, 2012, p. 3.
[38] Ibid., p. 73.
[39] John M. Knapp, It’s Called Democracy, unpublished manuscript, Cambridge, MA, 2008.
[40] Racheter, p. 3.
[41] “Iowa Congressional District Maps, 1857-2012,” Iowa Highway Ends, 2013, <>, accessed on April 9, 2013.
[42] Ibid.
[43] History of Reapportionment and Redistricting in Iowa, League of Women Voters of Iowa, offprint, Des Moines, IA, 1978.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Ibid.
[46] Ibid.
[47] Knapp, p. 34.
[48] Davis v. Synhorst, 217 F.Supp. 492, 1963.
[49] Davis v. Synhorst, 225 F.Supp. 689, 1964.
[50] Knapp.
[51] Knapp, pp. 7-8.
[52] Davis v. Synhorst, 1964.
[53] History of Reapportionment and Redistricting in Iowa, p. 6.
[54] Ibid.
[55] Ibid., p. 8.
[56] On more than one occasion, former State Senator Cloyd “Robby” Robinson has told Don Racheter that a Republican Senator came up to him at his desk on the floor of the Iowa Senate, laid out a map of the Cedar Rapids area, and asked Robby to indicate where he lived. When the map for the Senate districts came out, Robby’s cul-de-sac was appended to a Democrat-heavy district, while his neighbors were in a different Republican-dominated one. Robby served in the Iowa Senate from 1971-81.
[57] History of Reapportionment and Redistricting in Iowa, p. 7.
[58] Ibid., p. 8.
[59] Ibid.
[60] Knapp, p. 34.
[61] Ed Cook, Iowa Legislative Services Agency Legal Counsel, “Legislative Guide to Redistricting in Iowa,” <>, accessed on April 12, 2013; In the Matter of the Legislative Districting of the General Assembly of Iowa as Enacted by the 64th General Assembly, 193 N.W. 2d 784, 1972; supplemented 196 N.W. 2d 209, 1972; amended 199 N.W. 2d 614, 1972.
[62] Phil Burks, Senior Research Analyst, “Spot Research Request No 67-7 – Analysis of SJR 10, 67th General Assembly,” October 7, 1977.
[63] John M. Liittschwager, “Political Redistricting Criteria for the 1980s,” Presented at the Operations Research Society of America/The Institute of Management Sciences Joint National Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, November 13-15, 1978; Liittschwager, phone conversation with Don Racheter on March 23, 2013.
[64] Knapp, p. 40.
[65] Jean Lloyd-Jones, phone conversations with Don Racheter, March 29, 2013.
[66] In the Matter of the Legislative Districting.
[67] Don Avenson, personal interview with Don Racheter, Des Moines, March 13, 2013.
[68] David M. Stanley, phone conversation with Don Racheter, March 6, 2013.
[69] Laverne Schroeder, interview with Don Racheter, Des Moines, March 13, 2013.
[70] Wally Horn, interview with Don Racheter, Des Moines, March 13, 2013.
[71] Arthur Neu, phone interview with Don Racheter, March24, 2013.
[72] Avenson.
[73] Ibid.
[74] Burks, pp. 3-4.
[75] Burks, p. 1.
[76] Andrea J. Wollock (ed.), Reapportionment: Law and Technology, National Conference of State Legislatures Handbook, Denver, CO, pp. 11-14.
[77] Reid W. Crawford, memo to Nancy Shimanek and Jean Lloyd-Jones, January 22, 1979, provided to Don Racheter by Nancy Shimanek; Lloyd-Jones; Nancy Shimanek, phone conversation with Don Racheter, March 14, 2013.
[78] Cook.
[79] Serge H. Garrison and Gary L. Kaufman, “Report from Legal Counsel, Iowa Legislative Service Bureau, to Members of the Iowa General Assembly,” April 22, 1981.
[80] Liittschwager.
[81] Nancy Shimanek, handwritten notes on letterhead stationery, provided to Don Racheter by Nancy Shimanek, n.d.
[82] Ibid.
[83] “A Remap ‘A’ to House,” Editorial board, Cedar Rapids Gazette, April 8, 1979, p. 12A.
[84] “Who does Reapportioning?” Editorial board, Des Moines Register, March 19, 1979, p. 10A.
[85] Cook.
[86] Knapp, p. 12.
[87] Shimanek, 2013.




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