Gerrymandering: Elections and United States

Topics: Elections, United States, Minority group Pages: 7 (2654 words) Published: May 26, 2013
Should we, as a society, continue to let politicians use gerrymandering practices (drawing their own voting boundaries) across racial/partisan lines; thereby, diluting the minority vote?

While being on Facebook and participating in the political process of the Presidential campaign, I discovered that the election process is not a cut and dry one. The Republican Party was clearly honest in their approach of gerrymandering and bragging as they gerrymandered congressional districts in blue states. They wanted to control how state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn, so they set about to control the redistricting process. Therefore, even thou a majority of Americans voted for Democrats in the Presidential election… the Republicans ended up controlling the house. They not only gerrymandered but, changed voting rules in the states and districts they controlled, and the ones they didn’t control they challenged the voting rules in court. [Gerrymandering- what can be done about it? First we should define just what gerrymandering is. “Gerrymandering is redistricting; which is the process of drawing United States electoral district boundaries, often in response to population changes determined by the results of the decennial census”. “To gerrymander is to divide an area into election districts giving one political party a majority in many districts. The word gerrymander is a portmanteau from the name of Elbridge Gerry and salamander. Gerry was the governor of Massachusetts when he signed a bill in 1812 to redraw the district boundaries to favor the Democrats and weaken the Federalists, who had better numbers at the voting booth. The shape of the district he formed was likened in appearance to a salamander, and political cartoonists emphasized that appearance to denigrate the Democrats. Gerry did not sponsor the bill in question and was said to have signed it reluctantly, but his name has gone into history as that of a villain. The word gerrymander is first found in 1812 (History)”. “In his satirical volume The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce (1911) defines politics as the “strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; [t]he conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” Nowhere is this definition more applicable than in the act of delimiting legislative districts, often seen as an opportunity for clever politicos to use insider knowledge in ways that manipulate future electoral outcomes (Cox 2006). Bullock (2010) goes so far as to call redistricting “the most political activity in America.” “Redistricting in the United States is the act of modifying legislative boundaries in response to changing population conditions. The process is informed by the decennial census and designed to make districts equal in population and more reflective of intercensal demographic shifts. In most administrative units the responsibility of redrawing the lines is granted to the legislature itself (Tolson 2010; Bullock 2010; Cox 2006). Thus there are a number of reasons to expect some form of politically anticompetitive behavior, as self-interested legislators rationally endeavor to protect their incumbency and minimize political threats (McDonald 2004). Jurisdictions in the United States are granted considerable discretion in choosing the method by which they redraw their political boundaries following a decennial census. Two common methods are allowing legislatures to redistrict or creating a citizen commission to perform the task. Yet each of these processes frequently results in gridlock and/or political gerrymandering (Holden 2010).] The recent proposals by some lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere to apportion electoral votes in presidential elections based on congressional district rather than being awarded in the current winner-take all fashion by popular vote is outrageously undemocratic and would ignore the will of the voters in these states. In light of...

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