What is Gerrymandering?


What is Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering! What a word. In the simplest definition of the term, gerrymandering is when a political district map is redrawn to favor a class or party in the elections. In history, political districts were redrawn to under-represent minorities and favor white voters. They have also been redrawn to favor Democrats or Republicans in an area. To really simplify the term, you might use a gerrymandering synonym like manipulate. They are manipulating the district lines in their favor. Whether or not gerrymandering is legal is the big question.

How does Gerrymandering Work?

There are two tactics that a government or party might use for gerrymandering.The first is called cracking. In cracking, the lines are redrawn to spread the opposition's votes across several districts. This effectively dilutes their vote so it's not as powerful. Another tactic is called packing. When you pack your opponent's supporters, you redraw the district such that the opposition's supporters condense to a few areas. When you see a district map that has been packed, the boundaries are long and convoluted like a snake. This way, the dominant parties can maintain control of an area.

Why Is Gerrymandering Used?

Gerrymandering is all about maintaining political control over an area. By reducing the impact of your opposition, you can work to guarantee your success in the coming election. Gerrymandering is typically done by legislatures and courts that are already in office so they can maintain political dominance. In addition to partisan gerrymandering, you might also see bipartisan gerrymandering where two parties work together to create lines to lessen the impact of the competition.This happened in California in 2000 when their district lines were redrawn. The Republican and Democratic parties worked together to create the district lines to ensure that the current parties holding office were safe.

Examples of Racial Gerrymandering

Throughout history, there have been several instances where district lines were redrawn to minimize the impact of minority voters by packing them into one area. Explore a few Supreme Court cases to see how this worked.

Shaw v. Reno

In Shaw v. Reno, North Carolina planned to redraw their district lines to create one majority-black district. This was opposed, so the government created two majority-black districts. However, the second district was very irregular, leading to a lawsuit. The court agreed that the irregularity of the lines worked to segregate voters by race. While this was not a case of negative gerrymandering, it was still a case of extreme gerrymandering by a state.

Bush v. Vera

In 1996, Texas used sophisticated software and data to redraw their districts based on race when they were entitled to three additional seats. Since race was used to create the Hispanic and African-American districts, which gave them a bizarre shape, the Supreme Court decided that it was a case of racial gerrymandering.

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama

When the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus faced Alabama, it was due to cracking gerrymandering rather than packing. In this case, the district lines were redrawn to create districts where the populations were equal. However, since race was used as a factor in the redistricting, and due to the fact that they looked at the state as a whole rather than district by district, the Supreme Court ruled that it was racial gerrymandering.

source: your dictionary