What is Gerrymandering?


September 2, 2022

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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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