In the 2012 general election, Republicans running for Congress lost the popular vote by 1.4 million ballots; in the same election, they won control of the House of Representatives by a margin of 234 to 201. This disparity is due to an undemocratic process of rigging electoral districts known as gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering, named for a former governor of Massachusetts, is the process of, following the census, redrawing electoral districts (those areas which congresspersons and state legislators represent), such that certain parties have an advantage, and are guaranteed election in those districts, disenfranchising both minorities, and members of opposing parties.
In the past, this process has been used so as to lessen the value of a person’s vote, by putting more people in certain districts than others, but has since been prohibited. Now, gerrymanderers use processes called cracking, whereby they both spread out members of opposing parties over various districts so that their votes have no impact over those of the ruling party, and packing, whereby they pack members of the opposing party into one district, leaving the others safe for the ruling party.
Gerrymandering, without doubt, is a process which undermines the representative nature of our democracy, giving us representatives that do not represent the views of the majority of Americans. This process is perpetrated by both major parties, in various parts of the country, undermining the value of all of our votes, regardless of our ideology.
The process of redistricting is constitutionally required to be decided by state legislatures, wherein the party holding the majority has the say as to what final maps are used until the next census. This is where gerrymandering comes into play, with those majority parties redrawing the maps unfairly so as to ensure they are safely in the hands of that majority party.
To fix this problem, we need to create a non-partisan citizen-led redistricting committee, like the one recently adopted in California. A solution like this can rid us of partisan tampering by giving the power of redistricting back to the people. If we make our voices heard and contact our representatives in our state legislatures, we can make democracy more representative.
– Sawyer Neale,