If you are someone who is active in politics, you know that where you vote depends on where you live. Have you ever thought of how this is determined? You might have heard of this before, but gerrymandering has something to do with it. Gerrymandering is considered to be an unfair drawing of political districts that can benefit parties in the election. This term was first used in 1812, in the Boston Gazette. In Massachusetts, a State Senate election district was redrawn after Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts and benefited his party. The district that was drawn resembled a salamander, therefore being named “Gerrymandering”.
While the story of how gerrymandering came to be is interesting, it is also important to note that this can cause unfair advantages still to this day. Sometimes it can even benefit one demographic of people more than another. The controversial topic of gerrymandering has been questioned several times. A recent case was brought to the Supreme Court and in 2019, the Supreme Court decided that this is not a legal question but needed to be resolved by the branches of government instead.
An article by David Meyers identifies some of the worst cases of gerrymandering today. Including in Alabama where the 7th District is defined as “racially gerrymandered” (Meyers, 2020). The district is heavily Democratic and several areas within have large black populations. In 2017, there was a Special Senate election in which Doug Jones, a Democratic candidate won. The only district he carried was the 7th which was 63 percent African American.
There have been some proposed solutions to gerrymandering such as having a state such as Alaska decide the districts. Or, dividing them equally among the parties. Either way, there are weaknesses to every solution as there are weaknesses with gerrymandering today. It seems as though a solution would be choosing the less of the evils. Finding a solution that has less weaknesses than gerrymandering is one way to solve this issue. However, I don’t know how willing states will be to having other states such as Alaska determine their districts. I think that if the public was more educated on gerrymandering and the impacts that it can have on elections, they would be more concerned; similar to how people are so concerned about voter fraud that they didn’t realize was a problem until recent years.
Meyers, David. “4. Baton Rouge.” The Fulcrum, The Fulcrum, 7 Feb. 2020, thefulcrum.us/worst-gerrymandering-districts?rebelltitem=5#rebelltitem5.