Gerrymandering - Wikipedia
California handed redistricting to ordinary citizens. . An Ohio constitutional amendment that raises the level of bipartisanship required to. That's not what's happening in Ohio, where Republicans designed the state's redistricting map to keep their party in office in violation of voters'. Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or Minimum district to convex polygon ratio; Shortest splitline algorithm .. In stark contrast to the redistricting efforts that followed the census, the . In , the U.S. state of Ohio had a ballot measure to create an.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. November Learn how and when to remove this template message This satirical map reflects the origin of the word "gerrymander", by Elkanah Tisdale in The primary goals of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters' votes and to minimize the effect of opponents' votes.
A partisan gerrymander's main purpose is to influence not only the districting statute but the entire corpus of legislative decisions enacted in its path. By "cracking" districts, a political party would be able to maintain, or gain, legislative control by ensuring that the opposing party's voters are not the majority in specific districts.
When the party controlling the districting process has a statewide majority, packing is usually not necessary to attain partisan advantage; the minority party can generally be "cracked" everywhere. Packing is therefore more likely to be used for partisan advantage when the party controlling the districting process has a statewide minority, because by forfeiting a few districts packed with the opposition, cracking can be used in forming the remaining districts.
Who draws the lines?
This is often employed against politicians who represent multiple urban areas, in which larger cities will be removed from the district in order to make the district more rural. These tactics are typically combined in some form, creating a few "forfeit" seats for packed voters of one type in order to secure more seats and greater representation for voters of another type.
This results in candidates of one party the one responsible for the gerrymandering winning by small majorities in most of the districts, and another party winning by a large majority in only a few of the districts.
Effects[ edit ] Gerrymandering is effective because of the wasted vote effect. Wasted votes are votes that did not contribute to electing a candidate, either because they were in excess of the bare minimum needed for victory or because the candidate lost. By moving geographic boundaries, the incumbent party packs opposition voters into a few districts they will already win, wasting the extra votes. Other districts are more tightly constructed with the opposition party allowed a bare minority count, thereby wasting all the minority votes for the losing candidate.
These districts constitute the majority of districts and are drawn to produce a result favoring the incumbent party. When the parties win district elections in rough proportion to their electoral popularity, the efficiency gap is near zero. District Court in ruled against the drawing of Wisconsin legislative districts. In the election for the state legislature, that gap in wasted votes meant that one party had To minimize the risk of demographic or political shifts swinging a district to the opposition, politicians can create more packed districts, leading to more comfortable margins in unpacked ones.
Effect on electoral competition[ edit ] How gerrymandering can influence electoral results on a non-proportional system.
Gerrymandering and Reapportionment: An Explanation of Both and How They Work | Owlcation
For a state with 3 equally sized districts, 15 voters and 2 parties: Plum squares and Orange circles. In acreating 3 mixed-type districts yields a 3—0 win to Plum—a disproportional result considering the statewide 9: In bOrange wins the urban district while Plum wins the rural districts—the 2—1 result reflects the statewide vote ratio.
In cgerrymandering techniques ensure a 2—1 win to the statewide minority Orange party. Some political science research suggests that, contrary to common belief, gerrymandering does not decrease electoral competition, and can even increase it.
Some say that, rather than packing the voters of their party into uncompetitive districts, party leaders tend to prefer to spread their party's voters into multiple districts, so that their party can win a larger number of races. This may lead to increased competition. Instead of gerrymandering, some researchers find that other factors, such as partisan polarization and the incumbency advantage, have driven the recent decreases in electoral competition.
Gerrymandering and Reapportionment: An Explanation of Both and How They Work
While gerrymandering may not decrease electoral competition in all cases, there are certainly instances where gerrymandering does reduce such competition. One state in which gerrymandering has arguably had an adverse effect on electoral competition is California. Ina bipartisan redistricting effort redrew congressional district lines in ways that all but guaranteed incumbent victories; as a result, California saw only one congressional seat change hands between and In response to this obvious gerrymandering, a referendum in California gave the power to redraw congressional district lines to the California Citizens Redistricting Commissionwhich had been created to draw California State Senate and Assembly districts by another referendum in In stark contrast to the redistricting efforts that followed the census, the redistricting commission has created a number of the most competitive congressional districts in the country.
For example, inaccording to political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mannonly four challengers were able to defeat incumbent members of the U. Congress, the lowest number in modern American history. Mann, a Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institutionhas also noted that "Redistricting is a deeply political process, with incumbents actively seeking to minimize the risk to themselves via bipartisan gerrymanders or to gain additional seats for their party via partisan gerrymanders ".
Gerrymandering of state legislative districts can effectively guarantee an incumbent's victory by 'shoring up' a district with higher levels of partisan support, without disproportionately benefiting a particular political party.
This can be highly problematic from a governance perspective, because forming districts to ensure high levels of partisanship often leads to higher levels of partisanship in legislative bodies.
If a substantial number of districts are designed to be polarized, then those districts' representation will also likely act in a heavily partisan manner, which can create and perpetuate partisan gridlock. This demonstrates that gerrymandering can have a deleterious effect on the principle of democratic accountability. If districts become increasingly stretched out, candidates must pay increased costs for transportation and trying to develop and present campaign advertising across a district.
Less descriptive representation[ edit ] Gerrymandering also has significant effects on the representation received by voters in gerrymandered districts. Because gerrymandering can be designed to increase the number of wasted votes among the electorate, the relative representation of particular groups can be drastically altered from their actual share of the voting population.
This effect can significantly prevent a gerrymandered system from achieving proportional and descriptive representationas the winners of elections are increasingly determined by who is drawing the districts rather than the preferences of the voters. Gerrymandering may be advocated to improve representation within the legislature among otherwise underrepresented minority groups by packing them into a single district.
This can be controversial, as it may lead to those groups' remaining marginalised in the government as they become confined to a single district. Candidates outside that district no longer need to represent them to win elections. As an example, much of the redistricting conducted in the United States in the early s involved the intentional creation of additional "majority-minority" districts where racial minorities such as African Americans were packed into the majority.
This "maximization policy" drew support by both the Republican Party who had limited support among African Americans and could concentrate their power elsewhere and by minority representatives elected as Democrats from these constituencies, who then had safe seats.
The election provides a number of examples as to how partisan gerrymandering can adversely affect the descriptive function of states' congressional delegations.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives received 83, more votes than Republican candidates, yet the Republican-controlled redistricting process in resulted in Democrats losing to their Republican counterparts in 13 out of Pennsylvania's 18 districts. The redistricting resulted in Republican victories in 73 out of the affected seats; in those 7 states, Republicans received In Michiganredistricting was constructed by a Republican Legislature in This is particularly likely to occur when the minority party has significant obstruction power—unable to enact a partisan gerrymander, the legislature instead agrees on ensuring their own mutual reelection.
In an unusual occurrence infor example, the two dominant parties in the state of California cooperatively redrew both state and Federal legislative districts to preserve the status quo, ensuring the electoral safety of the politicians from unpredictable voting by the electorate.
This move proved completely effective, as no State or Federal legislative office changed party in the electionalthough 53 congressional, 20 state senate, and 80 state assembly seats were potentially at risk. The resulting districts gave each party a guaranteed seat and retained their respective power base.
Prison-based gerrymandering[ edit ] Prison-based gerrymandering occurs when prisoners are counted as residents of a particular district, increasing the district's population with non-voters when assigning political apportionment. This phenomenon violates the principle of one person, one vote because, although many prisoners come from and return to urban communities, they are counted as "residents" of the rural districts that contain large prisons, thereby artificially inflating the political representation in districts with prisons at the expense of voters in all other districts without prisons.
Countries such as the U. In Spain, they are constitutionally fixed since In a more neutral system, they might lose considerable influence.
Redistricting by neutral or cross-party agency[ edit ] The most commonly advocated electoral reform proposal targeted at gerrymandering is to change the redistricting process. Under these proposals, an independent and presumably objective commission is created specifically for redistricting, rather than having the legislature do it.
This is the system used in the United Kingdom, where the independent boundary commissions determine the boundaries for constituencies in the House of Commons and the devolved legislaturessubject to ratification by the body in question almost always granted without debate.
How do they do that? They do that by making certain that the majority of voters in each district have a strong history of voting for members of their political party. We know how most states in the U.
The reason a state is referred to as a red state or a blue state is because the majority of districts within that state can be depended on to vote Republican or Democrat. By knowing that, we can often predict which states will vote for a particular presidential candidate. Even though it is not known which candidate a voter has cast his or her vote for, we still get a total of the results of which candidate s the majority of voters in a particular district voted for.
If a district votes consistently for candidates of a particular party over a period of time, it is usually safe to predict they will continue to do so. When district boundaries are redrawn, the party a particular district has consistently favored will attempt to keep that district as much in tact as possible, adding only a small percentage of new people to that district if need be, in order to keep the votes of people added to that district watered down, so to speak.
The opposition party will do exactly the opposite with the district described in the paragraph above. The opposition party will make every effort to divide that district, splitting portions of it up between other districts that have a history of consistently voting for the opposition party. By doing that it is possible to neutralize the votes against them and keep their party in power for a long time. In addition to knowing which way most districts will vote by their voting history, there are telephone surveys taken on a regular basis around election dates, and in that case, it is possible to know how individual people will vote.
They will not ask for your name, but they already have your phone number. Telephone surveys are fairly expensive so that whoever funds them is likely to keep every piece of information gleaned from them in a file somewhere.
It is not my intention to create paranoia here, but to simply point out how things really work as opposed to the way a lot of people seem to imagine they work.
Most people look out for themselves first, and it is in the interest of politicians to know where their advantages lie. The Republican and Democratic parties came to an agreement to gerrymander the boundaries.
It was mutually decided that the status quo in terms of balance of power would be preserved. With this goal, districts were assigned to voters in such a way that they were dominated by one or the other party, with few districts that could be considered competitive. In only a few cases did this require extremely convoluted boundaries, but [nevertheless] resulted in preservation of existing strongholds.
Rarely does gerrymandering go the way it did in California inbut it usually does favor the majority party -- the party in power, whether that is the Republicans or the Democrats. Inthe parties in power were divided almost evenly in California, including Independents.Redistricting and Gerrymandering in America and Ohio: The Effort to Reform How Districts are Drawn
The two parties resolved their dilemma by working together to all but guarantee each of them would be reelected in several elections to come. Who says our political parties cannot work together? It is always the Democrat or the Republican Party, as well as the benefit of sitting politicians here in the U. Even then, they did not concern themselves with what was best for their constituents.
Lots of people have made suggestions about how gerrymandering could be avoided and some states are taking steps to improve the practice to benefit the voters of their states more, but for now things are as described here. If you would like more information about how specific states do redistricting, click here.
To learn more about how redistricting and gerrymandering work, watch the following short, but entertaining video. In Marylandredistricting falls to the Governor's preferred plan if the legislature fails to act.
In Oregonthe Secretary of State is the backup actor. In Connecticut and Illinoisthe backup commission is composed of members selected by the legislative leadership. In Mississippi and Texasthe backup commission includes specific statewide elected officials, like the State Treasurer or state Attorney General. In Oklahomaa citizen's initiative blended these models, establishing a backup commission composed of the Lieutenant Governor, and several members selected by the majority party's legislative leadership and the Governor.
Politician commissions In all of the states above, the legislature is primarily in charge of redistricting. Elsewhere, some other entity draws the lines. Seven states -- ArkansasColoradoHawaiiMissouriNew JerseyOhioand Pennsylvania -- draw state legislative districts with so-called "politician commissions," where elected officials may serve as members. Hawaii and New Jersey use politician commissions for congressional districts. Each, again, is a bit different.
In Arkansas and Ohiospecific elected officials have designated seats on the commission.