How has the federal government limited and protected free speech rights over the course of American history? How have citizens responded when Washington has limited their speech rights? And what can Elon Musk’s commentary on online free speech tell us about the difficult lines between free speech, disinformation, and political power?
I will never forget the time I used a bad word in the hallway of my high school (1968) and defended myself with my right to free speech. Instead of being sent down to the Principal's office, I was sent to my history teacher Mr. Smith. He talked with me about how all rights and freedoms had to come with the responsibility to exercise them properly, and how in failing to do so, we had to be held accountable. Responsibility seems to have gone out of fashion right alongside accountability. Not to mention good taste, good manners and class.
I am attaching my first newsletter that I am going to press on Substack in the next week or so. It provides an overview of my concept for stopping Gerrymandering and Extreme Partisanship. It is called The Whole County Option.
It provides a way to replace the "district" system with a true one person one vote that has not been achieved.
It would be wonderful if you could please read this 1st document to see if it sounds on target and interesting. I will try several venues to get you to see this.
Copy of the first newsletter - a bit funk in the formatting but I thought you might see it if I posted it here.
The Whole County Option provides an alternative to the current “district” system with a simple constitutional process that uses proportional representation to make one-person-one-vote a reality.
This newsletter will be published every Sunday beginning in June 2022. It will describe the process, the history, and the phased implementation plan.
010 - Introducing The Whole County Option
Gerrymandering of the Redistricting process will not exist when states and counties choose The Whole County Option. Reading Time - 6 minutes
John J. Patterson
I am John Patterson. I am a lifelong Maryland resident living in Butler, Maryland. I have been working on a research project on Gerrymandering and Redistricting for several years.
I have discovered essential and surprising facts that no one seems to know. They are in plain sight. Much of the time, they are right in the Constitution. They are simple in concept but mighty in impact.
Now, I have a tiger by the tail, a giant tiger. I would love to give you a broad view of what I am seeing and hear your perspectives. This topic is essential. I need your perspective to present this topic clearly and thoroughly.
This 6-minute read-time introduction gives a basic outline of the concept.
The current working title of the project is The Whole County Option – Using the Constitution to Cure Gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering is when politicians select their voters versus the voters’ selecting their politicians. It turns out that every position is gerrymandered under the current district system.
The Whole County Option provides an automatic, transparent, understandable, and non-partisan process that achieves the one person, one vote theory that was never achieved by the Warren court rulings of the 1960s or in later clarification rulings.
The Whole County Option uses whole counties as the building blocks for all election districts. This process works for three levels of government (federal congressional, state, legislative, and local county).
It makes Realignment (the replacement for redistricting) an almost automatic allocation of populations. The election part of the process is where representatives are chosen.
Let me tell you four quick, surprising facts that make the Whole County Option concept possible at the Congressional level.
1. The US Constitution does not say that districts must have the same number in the population. The term “districts” is not in the Constitution. The term districts did not enter the legal lexicon until the Apportionment Law of 1842.
2. The Constitution specifies the census to run once every ten years. The redistricting process can happen at any period. The Supreme Court has verified this in recent years.
3. Each seated House representative can have more or less than one vote – The Constitution calls for one vote per senator, but the Constitution is mute on the subject for the House of Representatives.
4. A divisor (the Franklin Divisor) is the critical number that the Constitution expects to be used to calculate the number of representatives per state. The number of representatives per state is not likely to be a whole number, so Jefferson introduced rounding in 1792. The Franklin Divisor has never been used in the electoral process. Not once. Rounding the number of representatives per state has led to a gross inequity of over four million voting power being shifted from some states to other states.
From those realities comes the following scenario for the Whole County Option:
1. Realignment replaces redistricting. Counties will do it every two years in the County Option. The Realignment period will start as soon as the 2022 mid-term election is over.
2. The process will allow that seated representatives are not equal to the number of votes in the legislative body. The “proportional representation” will have the number of votes determined by the population of the county or county group. The county officials decide the number of seated representatives used for votes.
3. The entire process is bottom-up and driven by county leaders. There will be a zoom meeting (called the Big Rocks session) on or before October 30, 2023, with all the county leaders of every participating state.
4. The heads of each county will announce their county Alignments and Profiles for their three levels of government.
5. Alignment is a declaration of their status as a standalone county or a combined county group. They would merge with some of their contiguous neighbors. There is a 40% of a single vote population size requirement for a county or county group to have a seated representative.
6. Profile – How many representatives will be seated from the county. (And therefore, their voting power will change). Counties will share multi-representative districts in the Whole County Option.
7. The alignments and profiles are consolidated and sent to the state legislature for approval. Just like today but the development is a locally based, bottom-up process.
The role of Counties
The Whole County Option follows the trend of counties being “can do – will do” guys in today’s government world. Trends in communication, marketing, and politics mean that communities of interest do not need to be broken up due to geography to get the message to and from the people. The COVID experience has caused recognition that the counties are capable and are at the front and center of any significant initiatives. The National Association of Counties (NACO) and the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) along with other non-partisan organizations are envisioned to participate in the planning, training, and model legislation portions of the roll-out.
The first deliverables of the project will be with the Federal Congressional Redistricting process. It will consist of having two system processes working at the same time. The existing “District” system will continue to run, allowing states to select the Whole County Option when ready. The “Whole County Option” will be developed and installed. Congress will install the Franklin Bridge to allow the existing district system to continue operating, but with Jefferson’s rounding problem.
How to make it happen in Maryland
I propose we move on from the current issues and address the future together. The County option is fair and practical. I suggest that the Governor’s Commission stay in force and work with the legislature as a team on the common goal of implementing the Whole County Option in October of 2023 for the 2024 election cycle. The Commission will be a good thing when we all have a standard solution, The Whole County Option.
The process in other states
As the current redistricting cycle closes, individual states can undertake initiatives in individual states as they see the program’s needs and benefits. The commissions used in the 2020 cycle will be kept in force.
It is all option-based. Do the state and county want to do the county option at which of the three levels of government. Implementing the Franklin Bridge into the current Federal process may make some states feel okay with where they are now.
Confused? Overwhelmed? Intrigued just the same?
The biggest surprise is that we have never actually executed the process called for in the Constitution. Not once. Thomas Jefferson started a destructive rounding in the apportionment process in 1792.
Ben Franklin had a plan. His plan is in the Constitution. The plan is waiting to be used for the first time.
So, could I make the argument that When Reagan said the 9 most hated words are - I’m from the government and I’m here to help , he violated the sedition act?