Gerrymandering: United States House of Representatives and Election District Boundaries
Prof. S. Sharifan
March 4, 2013
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 …show more content…
The party in control of redistricting can weaken its opposition by “packing” or “cracking”. Packing is to concentrate as many voters of the opposition party into a single electoral district to reduce their influence in voting in other districts. In some cases, this may be done to obtain representation for a community of common interest thus creating i.e. a minority group (Blacks or Hispanics) what is called a majority-minority district. Cracking is the spreading out of opposition voters across numerous “safe” districts which will dilute their voting percentage and its effect on the outcome. If representatives are required to be residents of their districts, redistricting may redraw the boundary to exclude his/her house, or draw them into a district where they will lose the next election.
Gerrymandering is a very serious problem. Effective gerrymanders can have significant policy implications. In California, for example, it makes a difference whether there are 23 or 24 Republicans in the Senate. If there are 23, Republicans can’t stop Democratic efforts to raise taxes. If there are 24, Republicans can. By pre-determining election outcomes, gerrymandering makes actual voting less consequential, and therefore it should discourage voter turnout, but because of a lack of awareness on the subject voter turnout is not significantly affected. Any variations in voter turnout mostly depend on voter