top of page
  • Giovanni Florean

What is Gerrymandering?

In the United States, the political practice of ‘gerrymandering’ consists of drawing up electoral constituencies so that the candidates of a particular party are favoured. This practice uses two principal tactics: ‘cracking’ (diluting the voting power of the opposing party's supporters across many districts) and ‘packing’ (concentrating the opposing party's voting power in one district to reduce their voting power elsewhere).


This cheat sheet will further explain the practice of gerrymandering, including its historical origins, its contemporary political usage, and potential solutions to reduce its impact.


Gerrymandering in the United States political system

Where does the term originate from?


The term ‘gerrymandering’ itself derives from the combination of ‘Gerry’ and ‘salamander’: it was coined from a satirical cartoon that appeared in the Boston Gazette in 1812 denouncing Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry.


The Massachusetts Governor had been publicly criticised since he had approved constituency maps that were too favourable to his party, the Democratic-Republican Party. He had designed a new constituency with particularly convoluted boundaries, including those parts of the population favourable to him and excluding those unfavourable to him, therefore guaranteeing a hypothetical re-election. The lines of this constituency were so irregular and tortuous that it looked like a salamander.


Gerrymandering Salamader

Gerrymandering in practice


Over the years, gerrymandering has been used by almost every party that has found itself in the position of redrawing electoral districts. This is a task that falls to the legislatures of the individual states.


Recently, evidence of gerrymandering was seen in the 2018 North Carolina elections to the House of Representatives. The Republicans won in 10 of 13 districts with an average margin of 11.3%, while the Democrats won only 3 seats but with a much larger average margin of +44.3%. The distribution of districts was so unfavourable to the Democrats that, despite having 48.3% of the vote, they won only 3 of the 13 seats.


Gerrymandering example

Democrats equally have the power to gerrymander the states that they own, most notably New York, but Republicans have control of map-drawing in more states across the country.

The only legal obstacle to gerrymandering is the Voting Rights Act, one of the fundamental laws against racial segregation, which was passed in 1965. In particular, two paragraphs are crucial: the first obliges states with a segregationist past to review any change in constituencies, while the second allows any citizen to appeal if a change in boundaries causes dilution of the minority vote.


Segregationist = relating to, or advocating for the policy of enforced separation of different racial groups.



Political impact of gerrymandering


Gerrymandering remains one of the most obvious techniques to influence electoral results; however, it is much more subtle to slash funding to polling stations in certain neighbourhoods which leads to poorly trained staff and fewer vote counting machines. This makes voting a challenge for those who do not have a car, and even those who do drive are forced to wait for hours in line. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a leading civil rights organisation, black and Latino voters have to wait 45% longer than white voters on average. For every hour they wait, the probability of them voting decreases by 1%.


Even if there is agreement on which districts are being politically gerrymandered, there is little agreement on a solution. The most common proposal is to use independent or non-partisan commissions for redistricting, which is already done in several states. Nevertheless, many opponents say it is difficult to find ‘non-partisan’ committee members, with those in power knowing that gerrymandering provides them with a distinct political advantage.


Gerrymandering has continued to plague American politics to this day, especially since minority voters have become more vocal about the violation of their voting rights. The problem will prove difficult to solve as the quest for power can be a powerful incentive for political wrongdoing. However, careful monitoring of redistricting, combined with court action when necessary, can help reduce this issue and ensure that districts serve their original purpose of providing fair representation for all.



Edited by Alex Leggett

114 views4 comments

Related Posts

See All

4 則留言


Sharlet Diana
Sharlet Diana
a day ago

Master NURS FPX 4900 Assessments: Your Path to Nursing Leadership


Unlock your leadership potential in nursing with our targeted NURS FPX 4900 assessment tutoring. From Assessment 1 to 5, our expert guidance is designed to ensure your success and propel your career forward.


Introduction to NURS FPX 4900 Series Assessments


The NURS FPX 4900 series is the cornerstone of your development as a nursing leader, focusing on the synthesis of your learning to tackle complex healthcare issues. This comprehensive assessment series, from NURS FPX 4900 Assessment 1 to NURS FPX 4900 Assessment 5, is designed to evaluate your readiness to lead in the dynamic field of nursing.


Specialized Tutoring for Nursing Leaders


Our tutoring services are specifically crafted to support…


按讚

Sharlet Diana
Sharlet Diana
a day ago

 

Conquer NURS FPX 4060 Assessments with Comprehensive Online Tutoring

Elevate your nursing expertise with our dedicated NURS FPX 4060 assessment tutoring. From Assessment 1 to 4, we offer customized support to help you excel and advance in your healthcare career.

Introduction to NURS FPX 4060 Series Assessments

The NURS FPX 4060 series is a pivotal component of your nursing education, focusing on the integration of public health concepts into nursing practice. Covering NURS FPX 4060 Assessment 1 through NURS FPX 4060 Assessment 4, this series empowers you to address public health challenges effectively and contribute to the wellbeing of communities.

Tailored Tutoring for Exceptional Results

Our tutoring service is specifically designed to navigate the complexities of the NURS FPX 4060 assessments.…


按讚

Sharlet Diana
Sharlet Diana
a day ago

Excel in NURS FPX 4050 Assessments: Expert Online Tutoring Services


Maximize your success in NURS FPX 4050 assessments with our specialized tutoring services. Tailored support from Assessment 1 to 4 empowers you to excel in your nursing program and advance your career.


Introduction to NURS FPX 4050 Series Assessments


The NURS FPX 4050 series is designed to challenge and enhance your understanding of advanced nursing practices and their impact on patient outcomes. Spanning from NURS FPX 4050 Assessment 1 to NURS FPX 4050 Assessment 4, this series tests your ability to apply critical thinking and evidence-based practices in real-world healthcare settings.


Targeted Tutoring for Unmatched Achievement


Our tutoring services offer targeted support for the NURS FPX 4050 series, ensuring that you have…


按讚

Sharlet Diana
Sharlet Diana
a day ago

Achieve Excellence in NURS FPX 4040 Assessments with Expert Guidance


Unlock your full potential in the NURS FPX 4040 series with our personalized tutoring services. From Assessment 1 to 4, we ensure a tailored learning experience that sets you up for success in your nursing career.


Introduction to NURS FPX 4040 Series Assessments


Embarking on the NURS FPX 4040 series is a significant step towards deepening your understanding of nursing informatics and its application in improving patient care. This series, starting from NURS FPX 4040 Assessment 1 through NURS FPX 4040 Assessment 4, is designed to challenge your analytical skills and enhance your ability to integrate technology effectively in healthcare settings.


Personalized Tutoring for Unparalleled Success


Our tutoring service is dedicated to…


按讚
bottom of page