You’ve likely heard about gerrymandering in the United States. As the country becomes more and more divided over political issues, it’s a term that comes up a lot. So what is gerrymandering, and why is it so bad?
Gerrymandering is a tool employed by many congressmen to ensure they stay in power. Every 10 years, the borders of congressional districts are updated by the census board to decide which voters fall into which electoral districts. Gerrymandering happens when those new districts are redrawn in a way that benefits one party over the other. These redrawn districts are often clearly designed to cut out certain groups like racial and religious minorities or working class citizens. If a politician is worried that a certain group of people might vote them out in the next election, they can work with the majority party to redraw the district to ensure that the opposition is cut out of the conversation.
This is a crucial issue people care about. In May of 2017, the Supreme Court ordered two gerrymandered districts in North Carolina to be redrawn because they were designed to segregate voters by race, and other districts have been stricken down by the courts as well. While these individual wins are terrific for democracy, some of the most gerrymandered districts in America are still skewing the electoral system.