gerrymander

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gerrymander

(jĕr`ēmăn'dər, gĕr–), in politics, rearrangement of voting districts so as to favor the party in power. The objective is to create as many districts as possible in areas of known support and to concentrate the opposition's strength into as few districts as possible, and extremely irregular boundary lines are sometimes necessary to obtain the results desired. The term has also been used to describe the similar creation of voting districts to favor the election of a candidate from a specific racial or ethnic group. The U.S. Supreme Court has placed (1964) the vague limit of "compact districts of contiguous territory" on such apportionment schemes, and also has reversed redistricting where there is evidence of racially based gerrymandering. The origin of the term, though by no means the origin of the practice, was in such an arrangement made by the Massachusetts Jeffersonians when Elbridge GerryGerry, Elbridge
, 1744–1814, American statesman, Vice President of the United States, b. Marblehead, Mass. He was elected (1772) to the Massachusetts General Court, where he became a follower of Samuel Adams, who enlisted him in the colonial activities preceding the
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 was governor.

Bibliography

See E. C. Griffith, The Rise and Development of the Gerrymander (1907, repr. 1974).

gerrymander

political chicanery aimed at acquiring votes. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 199]
References in periodicals archive ?
The task of conversion is daunting, PR advocates say, but they are optimistic that the logic and fairness of PR--particularly when applied to the current confusion swirling around voter-rights cases and racially gerrymandered districts--will win out over time.
Racially gerrymandered districts amount to political ghettos, and even strategists and sponsors with the largest stake in the 1982 amendment are increasingly ambivalent about it.
If anything, it's the local Valley legislators - elected in skewed, gerrymandered districts - who are out of step with local communities.
They point to districts that appear to be substantially gerrymandered, such as the 23rd Congressional District - nicknamed the ``ribbon of shame'' because it wanders up the coast of Central California for some 200 miles while going no more than five miles inland.
Howard Berman's is gerrymandered so as to make Latinos a voting minority.
SACRAMENTO - Saying the current districts were gerrymandered, an academic study released Monday predicts that the San Fernando Valley could gain a majority Latino congressional seat if voters pass Gov.
These four politicians, like so many others in a legislature gerrymandered into the hands of extremists, obviously prefer to protect special interests - namely, the state engineers union - than to make life better for the people they took an oath of office to serve.
Until lawmakers are selected solely by the voters and not because of gerrymandered borders of districts, there's very little hope of real reform of the state's numerous woes.
Without term limits, the supervisors could serve for life, thanks to skillfully gerrymandered districts that give them personal fiefdoms and the ability to raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to junk gerrymandered political districts and foster competitive races beginning next year cannot be implemented until at least 2008, California's chief elections official said Tuesday.
But the redistricting of the state's egregiously gerrymandered legislative districts isn't one of them.