An equitable solution for Navajo voting

 

The article “Disenfranchised in Utah” in the June 13th issue was quite interesting. Finding an equitable way to partition regions into voting districts has been an interest of mine for many years. Gerrymandering is a serious problem and has been used to entrench the existing power structure, as it has been in this case. However, when you compare the existing situation with the proposal from the Navajo Nation, they both gerrymander, pretty much to the same degree. This is obvious when you substitute “Anglo” for “Native American” in the Navajo proposal. They both have one highly concentrated district that is 93 to 94 percent for one group and apportions the other two groups more or less equally. The only difference is in the bias toward one group or the other. 

The overall percentages of population for the two groups are 51 percent Navajo and 49 percent other (Anglo).  An equitable solution would have equal numbers of representatives from the two groups elected. The problem is that there are three districts, i.e., one-and-a-half persons elected from each group, which is not feasible. 

A more equitable solution would be to have one predominantly Navajo district, one predominantly Anglo district, and the third district would be 51 percent Navajo and 49 percent other. The third district would be the most interesting: It would encourage greater participation in the election process, since each vote could be the determining vote for the outcome. 

Finally, it is possible to create a computer program that would be able to determine equitable districts in such cases. This program would be designed to ensure significant minority groups would have representation in proportion to their overall numbers. The data to do this exist. The program to do this can be written. The only problem would be in adopting such an approach.

Ken Young
Petrolia, California