Gerrymandering: United States House of Representatives and Election District Boundaries

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Michael Effiom
Prof. S. Sharifan
Govt 2302-73058
March 4, 2013
Gerrymandering
The main purpose of gerrymandering is to increase the number of legislative seats that can be won by the political party which is in charge of redrawing the district boundaries during that period of time, and to create “safe” seats for the party’s incumbent legislators which are seats in which the incumbent will always win re-election. Gerrymandering is the redrawing of election district boundaries to give an electoral advantage to a particular candidate or party. It has been recognized as a part of the American political landscape since 1812. The term derives from a redrawing of US Representative districts in Massachusetts before the 1812 elections, when Elbridge Gerry was governor. People said the district was reminiscent of a salamander and thus the term Gerry-mander was coined. The Constitution requires that representation in the House of Representatives be apportioned to states on the basis of population. So, every ten years we count up the number of people living in each state and making sure that each state gets at least one House member, divide up the rest of the seats among the states equally. States with large populations get a bigger amount of house seats smaller states get just the one. A variety of Supreme Court cases, however, have applied the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to the process of drawing legislative districts resulting in a requirement that each district have roughly the same population. So after each Census, states and localities have to redraw their district lines to ensure that the districts are roughly equal. This process redrawing of district lines has been blamed for almost every problem in American politics. The redistricting process therefore became a target for political reformers. In 2008, Californians enacted Prop. 11 and created the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC). State legislators would no longer be able to pick their own...
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