Gerrymandering is a political tactic almost as old as in the United States. In designing Virginia`s first-ever congressional map, Patrick Henry sought to draw district boundaries that would prevent his rival, James Madison, from winning a seat. But gerrymandering has also changed dramatically since its inception: today, complicated computer algorithms and sophisticated voter data allow cartographers to play large-scale redistricting with surgical precision. Where gerrymanderers had to choose from a few hand-drawn maps, they can now create and select thousands of computer-generated maps. The People`s Act, an important step in the reform of federal democracy that has already been passed by the House, represents an important step towards reducing political card drawing games. The bill would increase transparency, strengthen protections for communities of color, and ban partisan gerrymandering in congressional district redistricting. It would also improve voters` ability to challenge rigged cards in court. There are three other notable structural rules that govern the location of county lines in some states. The 2019 Supreme Court decision in Rucho v.
Common Cause gave the green light to partisan gerrymandering. The Electoral Act and the Constitution prohibit racial discrimination in district reorganization. But because there is often a link between party preference and race, Rucho opens the door for Republican-controlled states to defend racially discriminatory cards on the grounds that they legitimately discriminate against Democrats rather than unduly discriminate against blacks, Latinos or Asian voters. Here are six things you should know about partisan electoral boundaries and its impact on our democracy. While Republicans have been the main beneficiaries of gerrymandering over the past decade, Democrats have also used redistribution for partisan political purposes: in Maryland, for example, Democrats have used control of map drawing to eliminate one of the state`s Republican congressional districts. Some or all of these techniques can be used by cartographers to create partisan advantage within district boundaries. An important note, though: although gerrymandering sometimes leads to strangely shaped districts, this is not always the case. Cracks and bags can often result in regular-shaped neighborhoods that look attractive to the eye but are still heavily biased in favor of a party. But sometimes the process is used to draw cards that put a thumb on the scales to produce election results that are detached from voters` preferences. Instead of voters electing their representatives, gerrymandering allows politicians to elect their voters.
This happens especially when the dividing line is left to legislators and a political party controls the process, which has become increasingly common. When this happens, partisan concerns almost always take precedence over everything else. This leads to maps on which election results are virtually guaranteed, even in years when the party has a bad year. Whichever party is responsible for gerrymandering, it is ultimately the public that loses. Manipulated maps make elections less competitive, making even more Americans feel like their vote doesn`t matter. Although this system may seem confusing, the main rules are listed in the paragraphs below. Each rule is accompanied by an example of how it is applied or manifested. Targeting the political power of communities of color is also often a key element of partisan gerrymandering. This is especially true in the South, where white Democrats make up a relatively small proportion of the electorate and often live, problematically from a gerrymander`s point of view, very close to white Republicans. Even with cups and dice, discrimination against white democrats shifts the political dial so much.
Because of segregation in residential areas, it is much easier for cartographers to grasp or crack communities of color for maximum political advantage. Those who have the Redistricting pen do not have a blank board to draw the lines. Various rules limit the boundaries of districts that may or may not be drawn. Rules on equal voting rights for populations and minorities are backed by the federal government (although states can add additional restrictions). But even after factoring in federal rules, there are countless ways to divide a jurisdiction into districts.