South Dakota Republicans really want to beat Amendment T, because it would get rid of gerrymandering. South Dakota Republicans, like any majority party, really like gerrymandering, even though it’s almost impossible to offer any honest, principled defense of rigging the election map to improve one’s own chances of winning elections.
So South Dakota Republicans defend gerrymandering by denying that gerrymandering exists in South Dakota:
I guess Rep. Jim Stalzer’s insincere claims at the September 15 ballot question forum in Sioux Falls that his party didn’t gerrymander in 2011 weren’t just the product of last-minute-replacement prep. They are the Trumpist party line: assert falsehood repeatedly until people forget it’s falsehood.
Rep. Jim Bolin argues that since South Dakota’s legislative districts aren’t as stretched and contorted as districts in Illinois and North Carolina, South Dakota doesn’t have gerrymandering. That’s like Drunk Uncle saying, “I’m not an alcoholic; I’m only drinking beer!” That’s like a bookie saying to the cops, “Hey! I don’t have slot machines or roulette wheels! I’m just taking bets on horses. There’s no gambling here!” That’s like ISIS saying, “We don’t have gas chambers, so we’re not committing genocide!”
Gerrymandering is not defined by a specific mathematical ratio of border length to area. “Distorted” and “complicated” shapes signify gerrymandering, but they do not define gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is, most simply, the drawing of political boundaries to give one’s party a numeric advantage over an opposing party. Rep. Bolin and his Republican friends can say that the boundaries they have drawn manage to conform to certain geographical and Department of Justice criteria, but that statement does negate the fact that within those criteria, the Republicans drew lines that favor their party.
I invite Rep. Bolin, Rep. Stalzer, and other scrambling Republicans to look at the boundaries of Districts 1, 2, 3, 10, 14, 15, 19, 25, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, and 35 and explain to me how those squiggly, crinkly dividing lines arise from purely geographical and legal criteria without any consideration of where Republican and Democratic voters and candidates live. I also invite them to explain why they so adamantly oppose writing clear criteria into the state constitution to prevent a one-party regime drunk on its own power from rigging the map to serve their selfish political interests.