This is a word that I loved long before I had a clue what it meant. It just sounds great, doesn’t it? That is until you find out who’s been doing it and why. So just say the word out loud a few more times then you can read on to spoil the joy.
Gerrymandering is redrawing a congressional district map in such a way that it alters the demographics of that district. Congressional members like to do this to help ensure a majority of people who are more likely to vote for them.
Think of the following diagram as map where the blue dots represent democrats and the red dots represent republicans.
Note that this map is divided into 4 congressional districts with 16 voters in each district. Each district has 8 Democrats and 8 Republicans. This will make the outcome of any given election less predictable.
Now consider the same map with the 4 districts redrawn:
The map still has 4 districts with 16 voters each. However, 3 of the districts have a majority of Republican voters and only 1 district has a majority of Democratic voters.
As you can see, without actually changing the demographics of the map, redrawing the districts can create a huge electoral advantage for one candidate over another. Although my example showed the redistricting to the Republican advantage, it has been a very popular tool for both parties.