A quick read on the basics of gerrymandering and why we should fight to reform it.
What is gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the act of politicians manipulating the redrawing of legislative district lines in order to help their friends and hurt their enemies.
They may seek to help one party win extra seats (a partisan gerrymander), make incumbents of both parties safer (an incumbent-protection gerrymander) or target particular incumbents who have fallen out of favor.
Types of gerrymandering
Cracking splits groups of people with similar characteristics, such as voters of the same party affiliation, across multiple districts. With their voting strength divided, these groups struggle to elect their preferred candidates in any of the districts.
Packing is the opposite of cracking: map drawers cram certain groups of voters into as few districts as possible. In these few districts, the “packed” groups are likely to elect their preferred candidates, but the groups’ voting strength is weakened everywhere else.
Why gerrymandering needs to end
With redistricting now beginning in many states, the need for Congress to pass reform legislation is more urgent than ever. Unless that happens, we risk another decade of racially and politically discriminatory line-drawing.
Regardless of which party is responsible for gerrymandering, it is ultimately the public who loses out. Rigged maps make elections less competitive, in turn making even more Americans feel like their votes don’t matter.
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