What is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymander

Verb/ Achieve (A Result) by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency

We like to think our precious votes count, but think again! For more than 200 years, political parties – yes, even yours – have been rigging elections and wasting your votes for their own power and gain. Good when your party comes out on top. Bad when your party is the victim, and you cannot vote out an ineffective politician.

Elections are non-competitive when results are predetermined, and quality candidates are discouraged from running. Gerrymandering creates unfair and unrepresentative democracy and encourages self-interested politics. Winners don’t have to listen to constituents, speak to colleagues, or solve problems, hence the ceaseless gridlock in Washington and Raleigh. If our communities are to function at the highest possible level, we’ve got to have humble, authentic, honest leaders whose vision is to bring people together instead of constantly searching for “wedge issues” to drive us apart. When political parties rig our elections via gerrymandering, we all pay a terrible price.

How Does It Work?

We all vote for president, governor, U.S. Senators, and mayor. But most other elections – U.S. House of Representatives, state Senate, state House of Representatives, county commissioners, city councilman, school board, as example – are “district” elections.

Voting districts must be approximately equal in size, but populations change every day as people move, are born, die, or for some other reason cease to vote. Our U.S. Constitution mandates the census each ten years so that new voting district boundaries can be set.

The Issue

Here’s where it gets sticky. Instead of a person or persons or ethical entity “redrawing/reconfiguring” the geographical boundaries of each district, political parties are given the honor. In fact, it is but one political party in each state – that which holds the majority in the state legislature. Hmm…smells funny, doesn’t it? Like something is amiss.

And it is. Majority political parties draw new voting districts in a fashion that makes it impossible or nearly impossible for an opposing party’s candidate to win an election. In short, they rig the election – and as we’ve seen – because the next “redrawing” won’t occur until after the next census, the elections are rigged for ten years at time! How’s that for a “gotcha!”

For Example

Picture an imaginary state with a population of 50 people. There are 5 senate districts, each of which contains 10 voters – 30 belong to the Blue Hen Party, 20 belong to the Red Roosters Party.

Conveniently, the Hens and Roosters live side-by-side in neat grids, so there are 5 senate voting districts divided by party. (Example A). On Election Day, the Blue Hens win 3 seats, the Red Roosters win 2 seats, consequently the Blue Hens will control the majority in the Senate for the ensuing ten years. Sounds about right. The state voters are 60% Blue Hens and 40% Red Roosters, so representation in the Senate exactly mimics that ratio.

But suppose the Blue Hens wish to control more seats to be certain the other party has no voice. The Blue Hens have the power to move the voting district boundaries (Example B) so that each district contains 6 Blue Hens and 4 Red Roosters. Despite the fact that 40% of the voters are Red Roosters,
the Blue Hens win all 5 senate seats! And the Red Roosters voters have zero representation. Don’t laugh! It happens all the time!

Or suppose the Red Roosters can move the districts boundaries (Example C) so that two districts contain 1 Red Rooster and 9 Blue Hens – and three districts contain 4 Blue Hens and 6 Red Roosters. Yes, the Red Roosters have surrendered control of 2 districts – but they win 3 seats, and hence control the majority in the Senate – despite the state population being 60% Blue Hens. That happens all the time as well!

What could be more unfair, unethical, or dishonest! Yet the practice is legal because those who draw the district boundary maps make the laws! After more than 200 years – that’s 2 CENTURIES – isn’t it time to halt this practice in its tracks? To FLUSH GERRYMANDER? To replace secretive, backroom map-making with a process that is fair, open, ethical and unrigged? That can no longer waste the voters will and choice?