What Is Gerrymandering: A 100-Word Explainer

We hear about gerrymandering all the time, but what exactly is it? Let’s see if we can break it down in about 100 words.

In the United States, the ruling party can redraw the borders of voting districts prior to elections to advantage their representation in Congress using two main techniques.

A voting state containing five district seats by law with 60% popular support for Party A and 40% support for Party B would proportionally result in three Party A seats and two Party B seats.

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But combining neighborhoods so that each district ends up with a 60% Party A majority would result in five Party A seats. This dilution of votes is called “cracking”.

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Party B might instead use “packing,” putting 40% of the 60% Party A voters into two districts. The remaining 20% could be mixed with and outnumber by the 40% Party B voters in three more districts, allowing Party B to take three out of five seats despite a popular minority.

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Photo credit: Staff of Boston Gazette

44 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Angela J
Angela J6 months ago

Thanks

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Carole R
Carole R6 months ago

Okay, thanks.

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Marianne C
Marianne C6 months ago

Wisconsin was heavily cracked and packed in our last re-districting. The district lines were redrawn to create an anticipated 60% Republican majority in 60% of districts, which would technically keep the party of Scott Walker and the Kochs in power definitely .

It worked pretty well, too. They could have a majority in the legislature without getting a majority of the votes. In 2012, they won 60 of the 99 seats in the Assembly while getting only 48.6% of the state-wide vote; in 2014, they won 63 seats with only 52% of the state-wide vote.

This particular gerrymandering is being chewed over by the Supreme Court now. It's being called the most important case in decades dealing with how Americans are represented in Congress and state legislatures.

A lower court had already overturned the maps when the plan was challenged under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and, in late 2016, the challengers won at trial. This was the first time in over three decades that a map has been struck down as a partisan gerrymander. The lower court ruled that the plan was "an aggressive partisan gerrymander" that locked in a Republican majority in the state assembly under "any likely electoral scenario."

A SCOTUS ruling that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional will at least create some limits that legislators will have to obey when they draw district maps in the future.

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Angela G
Angela G6 months ago

right

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Winn A
Winn A6 months ago

Got it, thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S6 months ago

Thanks.

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Janis K
Janis K6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Vania G
Vania G6 months ago

Obrigada por publicar

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld6 months ago

Julie W.,
Technically, one need not register with either party. However the duopoly has such a lick on the election process, that anyone else has little chance of winning. There have been a few that have bucked this trend, but they tend to have some notoriety before running. They should primary is geared towards the two parties.

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