What is Gerrymandering?

 Gerrymandering has often been overlooked by mainstream American politics; it is not as polarizing to some as immigration, healthcare or gun control. Partisan gerrymandering is one of the biggest problems facing American elections today. Gerrymandering gives a political party an unfair advantage, which makes the opposition party work even harder to win an election.  The term gerrymandering was coined in 1812 when a man named Elbridge Gerry, who was the governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, signed a law that redistricted areas to more favorably support his political views. 

         Since then, certain districts have been drawn up specifically to benefit a particular political party. The party that has been behind the recent cases involving gerrymandering has been the Republican Party. In 2018, less than two months after the midterms, a federal court struck down North Carolina’s congressional maps citing that it unconstitutionally favored GOP congressional candidates. When it comes to partisan redistricting, the court has been hesitant to intervene at times.

  In Gill v. Whitford, Wisconsin Democrats in the state legislature argued the recent maps that were approved were biased and the court failed to act. The high court kicked it down to the lower courts for more arguments. The court continually fails to stamp out these controversial, unethical practices. They are sending a message to state legislators, as well as the governors who approved these maps, that it is okay to draw up the maps however they please.

North Carolina recently had to re-draw up some of its congressional maps. As a result, open seats formerly held by Republicans will likely be pickups for the Democrats in November. They are NC-02 and NC-06. This was a result of the state court order demanding that the map be re-drawn. If gerrymandering was controlled, how many seats would actually still be Republican strongholds? 

This past June, the Supreme Court ruled it is not up to the Court to decide the constitutional legality of partisan redistricting. The Court offered other alternatives such as ballot initiatives or the use of an independent commission. According to Five Thirty Eight, roughly eight states use commissions. Those are substandard solutions, because these options are not available in every state; only half the states have ballot initiatives. Another problem is, in the absence of oversight, the benefiting party has no motivation to change the law and redistrict. The only way we are able to change this situation is by having the Judicial Branch step in and put a stop to this. Without their intervention, gerrymandering will continue unmonitored. 

Sources:

 

Five Thirty Eight: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/partisan-gerrymandering-isnt-the-supreme-courts-problem-anymore/

 

NPR: https://www.npr.org/2019/11/15/779727150/democrats-could-gain-at-least-2-house-seats-under-new-n-c-redistricting-plan

 

VOX: https://www.vox.com/2018/6/18/17474912/supreme-court-gerrymandering-gill-whitford-wisconsin

 

Smithsonian Magazine:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/where-did-term-gerrymander-come-180964118/

 

  

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Mr McDonough has been involved in Politics and the Entertainment Industry since 1988. He has worked inside Washington DC and with many political campaigns over the years. He hopes to make Political Awareness as force for non partisan real information and political awareness for all voters.

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