Opinion: Who is Gerry Mander?

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Well, actually, Gerry Mander is not a who but a what.

Gerrymander is the practice of reapportioning voters by drawing political districts from the local level to congressional seats that are designed to favor one political party over the other or even one particular officeholder, and in so doing virtually preordain the outcome of elections. It was coined after Governor Gerry of Massachusetts who engineered such a plan for his state legislature early in the 19th century. Evidently one district was drawn in such a way that it resembled a salamander… hence gerrymander!

This practice is as old as politics itself, but of late it seems to have become more sophisticated and more pervasive, so much so that the United States Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case when the Court reconvenes in October to determine whether efforts at redrawing political maps violates the United States Constitution.

Every ten years after the national census is completed, political district lines are required to be re-drawn so that districts comprise approximately the same number of persons. This is to insure that the power of the voters is evenly distributed.

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