Random Jottings is pondering gerrymandering. There is some discussion of having a non-partisan commission but as a commentor asks, how do you prevent that from being captured by partisan hacks? Well, the only way to do that is to make it ineffectual which kind of defeats the purpose.
I think they are missing the bigger issue, which is the true genius of the Founding Fathers. You don’t try to eliminate partisanship, because that’s a fools errand (or the essence of Socialism, take your pick). Instead your system needs to harness it as a driving engine. Make the partisans do the work but structure it so that the damage done is minimized.
As I’ve mentioned that before, it seems that the gerrymandering problem could be solved by a very simple system. After the census, any citizen can submit a redistricting plan. A plan must generate the correct number of Congressman and must have a ratio of the largest district to the smallest district of 1.2 or less (or pick some other close to 1 number) in terms of voting population size in order to be valid. The valid plan with the shortest total borders wins.
Now, this won’t completely stop gerrymandering. One can still get away with a little bit by making almost all well designed districts with just a few protuberances. But it also makes for an interesting contest between the parties - how much can you go out of a minimal solution before the other side beats you on overall length? And of course the good government types can submit their own maps, although I suspect that formatting requirements will keep the rabble out. That’s OK, the real driver is competition between the parties.
All the commission does, then, is scan the lists, verify validity and total the borders (this makes it ineffectual, thereby inhibiting capture). All the maps become public domain, of course, so that the commission can be checked up on.
Of course, this will never be adopted because it doesn’t satifsy either the hacks or the good government types. The former’s disatisfaction is obvious. The latter will not appreciate it because it’s a general solution that’s mostly right, rather than a perfectly planned equisitely balanced solution. Of course, that kind of solution never works in practice but that hasn’t deterred them in the past.