We’ve all heard the word.
I doubt many of us know what it means let alone how it works.
Gerrymandering involves the dividing of a state, county, etc. into election districts. When dividing these districts, certain parties that want to sway elections will divide the counties in a way that gives their political party a majority in many districts while making sure their opposition has a majority in as few districts as possible.
Although it sounds unfair, this is possible and is done in our current voting system. The math behind it makes it clear that this makes for an unfair political system. Take North Carolina for example.
Above you can see a bunch of squiggly colorful states. This seems innocent and almost fun, but what you’re actually looking at is a corrupt voting system. In its most recent congressional election, North Carolina’s congressional delegation remained as a 10-3 Republican majority, despite half of the total votes being cast by Democrats. How does this happen? Gerrymandering of election districts to favor the Republican Party is how.
Patrick Honner, a Contributing Columnist for Quanta Magazine, explains the math of Gerrymandering.
“Start by imagining a state with 200 voters, of whom 100 are loyal to party A and 100 to party B. Let’s suppose the state needs to elect four representatives and so must create four districts of equal electoral size.
Imagine that you have the power to assign voters to any district you wish. If you favor party A, you might distribute the 100 A voters and 100 B voters into the four districts like this:
With districts constructed in this way, party A wins three of the four elections. Of course, if you prefer party B, you might distribute the voters this way:
Here, the results are reversed, and party B wins three of the four elections.
Notice that in both scenarios the same number of voters with the same preferences are voting in the same number of elections. Changing only the distribution of voters among the districts dramatically alters the results. The ability to determine voting districts confers a lot of power, and attending to some simple math is all that’s needed to create an electoral edge.”
Although you cannot simply divide your voters into districts based on their preference, this is the basic idea Gerrymandering. Those creating district lines can track voting data from different regions of a state to see what the general preference of the area is. They then can draw lines to distribute voters similarly to what is done above. The result is a diagram similar to North Carolina.
Looking at the math, Gerrymandering essentially “waste” the votes of those in a party that is ‘corraled’ – if you will – into fewer districts to suppress their vote.
The process of Gerrymandering causes there to be one or two districts who all prefer party A, and the rest have a majority of party B. This would make for a certain party to have a majority over whatever they are being voted into. What we can learn from Gerrymandering is this. Our voting system is so flawed that we can draw lines on a map and suppress thousands of votes.
-and we can do this legally.