If you’ve been following politics or really just this election, you may have heard the word gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the practice of dividing or arranging a territorial unit into election districts in a way that gives one political party an unfair advantage in elections.” Redistricting, which is the redrawing of state legislative and congressional districts, happens about every 10 years after the US Census. The US Census updates the population and demographics of the United States. Whichever party is in control now has the ability to redraw the districts to meet their political needs.
Gerrymandering can be broken down into two types, packing and cracking. Packing means to pack as many of your opponent’s voters together into as few districts as possible. While cracking is dividing up voters into more districts and thus more votes. Gerrymandering is legal, except for racial gerrymandering. Racial gerrymandering is the process of intentionally drawing districts to dilute the voting power of minority groups.
For more information on gerrymandering we recommend the following resources:
- Prokop, A. (2014, August 05). Who actually does the gerrymandering https://www.vox.com/2014/8/5/17991958/gerrymandering-legislatures-republicans-democrats
- Nass, S. (2015, February 22). How to steal an election [Infographic]
- Wikipedia. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:How_to_Steal_an_Election_-_Gerrymandering.svg
- TED-Ed, Greer, C. (2012, October 25). Gerrymandering: how drawing jagged lines can impact
- an election – christina greer [Video] YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcUDBgYodIE