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 ?
Moreover, we can be sure that if a districting plan were altered to satisfy the grievances of those upset by a particular gerrymander, there would be new groups of individuals who would be upset by the alteration.
25) That said, the nation's experience with partisan gerrymanders seems to have reached a tipping point; gerrymanders such as the Texas gerrymander at issue in LULAC have become so complete, and their execution so brazen, that the level of gerrymandering in the first decade of the twenty-first century has reduced most congressional elections to a "farce" and rendered individual voters' decisions on election day nearly meaningless.
23) Writing in part for a Court majority, (24) in part for a plurality, (25) and in part for himself, (26) Justice Kennedy relied on Bandemer to rule that an equal protection challenge to a political gerrymander presented a justiciable case or controversy, although he conceded that the Court could not agree on a substantive standard.
It has also been asserted that an incumbent gerrymander "perverts the democratic system, undermines legitimacy and accountability, encourages voter apathy, and institutionalizes a racial bias.
Yet at the same time that the high court is accepting partisan gerrymanders, it has undercut efforts to diversify legislatures through redistricting.
As the 1812 gerrymander manifests, however, this is easier said than done, because voters can be fickle.
He should examine the possibility that a partisan gerrymander may be a matter of degree, not dependent on stable voting patterns either statewide or even districtwide.
This test works because in a partisan gerrymander, the targeted party wins lopsided victories in a small number of districts, while the gerrymandering party's wins are engineered to be relatively narrow.
The district was said to have resembled a salamander, and the term gerrymander came from putting the two words together.
40) Under that Republican gerrymander, Democratic candidates for the Indiana House received 52 percent of the votes in the 1982 elections across the state but won only forty-three of 100 House seats.
Yet even though the Supreme Court has said a political gerrymander may be so extreme that it violates the Constitution, it has never struck one down because the justices have not been able to agree on how much partisanship in map drawing is too much, or even how to measure it.
Those extreme distortions culminated in the Great Republican Gerrymander of 2012, encompassing seven states at once.