After seeing some of the very oddly shaped congressional districts, I’m reminded of a suggestion Steven Landsburg made in his book, More Sex is Safer Sex.
The oddly shaped districts are a result of generations of government-driven redistricting to redraw geographic districts that happen to hold high portions of people with similar political ideologies in order to help members of one political party or another hold onto their jobs and power in government.
For example, if by redrawing the district boundaries from a square that might contain 40% of voters who typically vote Republican to a sawtooth bordered district to encompass only certain neighborhoods to push the percentage of typical Republican voters up to 60% or 70%, the Republican representative in that district has less to worry about in terms of competition from the other party. The result is you have folks who have been in Congress for very long times and, even when they do some pretty bad stuff, they retain their positions because the voters will keep take the evil from their own party over voting for the other party.
Steven Landsburg’s solution: Instead of using geographic-based districts, base representation on the first letter of last name. So, if your last name begins with A, you may share a representative with people all across the country, rather than sharing with just people who live close to you.
Landsburg thinks this will cut down on earmarks/pork barrel projects. Since there’s no geographic tie between the representative and his power base, there’s less incentive for representatives to bring home some government dollars to their districts because they essentially have no home to bring it to.
This may also help with creative districting that has results in plitting up Congressional seats based on ideology.