Letters to the Editor

What is Gerrymandering?

By Tim Bristol

I have studied what is called gerrymandering of voting districts in the course of my research. Many people know the term but don’t know exactly what it means. It comes from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts + salamander, from the supposed similarity between a salamander and the shape of a new voting district on a map drawn when he was in office (1812), the creation of which was felt to favor his party; the map (with claws, wings, and fangs added) was published in the Boston Weekly Messenger, with the title The Gerry-Mander.

Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish an arguably unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts. Many people think it is just a national issue but it is an important local issue as well.

There are 2 specific tactics when it comes to gerrymandering: cracking and packing:

  1. Cracking: dividing up opposing voters into districts so that they will be a minority in those districts.
  2. Packing: putting as many opposition voters as possible into as few districts as possible so that they will win the fewest seats and be a minority in representation.

Gerrymandering creates misrepresented districts and legislatures that don’t represent the people.

The new Town Council that gets elected on November 2nd will vote on the district’s new map for the next 10 years. The Republicans gerrymandered the districts for the last 20 years. The Clearest example is District 2. We need to fix the districts and make them better represent their neighborhoods.

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