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The Detrimental Practice Of Gerrymandering Essay

1172 words - 5 pages

In American politics today, many practices exist that greatly harm the American public. One of these dangerous practices, known as gerrymandering, occurs in nearly every state. While some claim that the practice helps America, in reality gerrymandering harms American democracy and safety. Gerrymandering greatly affects society, and must become illegal to insure fair representation, the democratic processes in America continues, and America continues to thrive.
When gerrymandering occurs, a political party draws the boundaries of an electoral district in a way that helps their party win elections over the other parties. For example, if a Republican controls a state, and it appears like the party will lose a seat in the future, the Republicans will draw the district in a way to exclude as many Democratic voters as possible. Perhaps they will do this by removing a democratic stronghold from one district and adding it to another district that will either easily go Republican or will have a Democratic representative no matter what happens. Before 1964, the majority party could draw districts in any way they wanted to, and chaos ensued. Consequently, in 1964, the U.S Supreme Court legislated that the districts “had to contain equal population, and be as compact as possible” (“Gerrymandering”). Every ten years the U.S. issues a census to determine the population of each state. After this, each state receives their share of the 435 seats, and then the state gets to break the population into the corresponding number of districts. This whole process, known as reapportionment, takes weeks to determine, and in many cases, courts must determine the shape and area of each district. Even though the districts must contain equal population, gerrymandering still occurs regularly. Each party understands how each area will vote in the election, and will carve out the districts to suit their political needs. Because the Supreme Court gave no definition of what compact means, the majority party continues to draw districts in crazy shapes to insure victory for one side. In some cases, minority neighborhoods miles apart get connected by a street running in between them that makes them eligible to become a single district (Wilson 241-242). The first case of gerrymandering occurred in Massachusetts in 1812. Governor Eldridge Gerry redistricted his state in a way that gave his party an unfair advantage. When pictures of one of the crazy districts got out, a political cartoonist thought the picture looked like a salamander and the name gerrymandering stuck (Foglia). Three different types of gerrymandering occur today. The first type, called “excess vote,” occurs when the controlling party stacks all of its opponent’s voters into a few districts. The second type, called “wasted vote,” occurs often when the majority party places the opposing parties strongholds throughout their own district to dilute the opposing parties strength. The final type, know as “stacked voting,”...

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