Redistricting and Gerrymandering

Since the last election, your voting district may have very well changed.


Not from any action you may have control over. And perhaps also in silence: Redistricting is the process of enacting new congressional and state legislative district boundaries.


All United States Representatives and state legislators are elected from political divisions called districts. The states redraw district lines every 10 years following completion of the United States census. Although the federal government requires that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, the practice is often used to segment, isolate and manipulate the voting process by drawing electoral district lines to favor one political party, individual, or constituency over another.


Most states give their legislatures power over district boundaries, sometimes subject to a veto by the governor. Others rely on a commission to draw the lines or use a hybrid model. In the cases where the process is intentionally manipulated to achieve political gain in a specific district, the act is called Gerrymandering. It is a practice often used to condense or split up the vote in specific geographic areas to benefit a party or outcome. Often, these lines are drawn by racial or socioeconomic lines, with the risk being the ability to weaken the political process by creating imbalanced districts.


In intentionally drawing new voting district boundaries with the intention of influencing the outcome of the election, Gerrymandering follows two practices:

  • Packing – Voters of a certain demographic or party are drawn into as few districts as possible.
  • Cracking – Occurs when voters of a certain demographic or party are drawn across multiple districts, dividing their voting power making it more difficult to elect preferred candidates.

In that sense, Gerrymandering disparately affects communities of color. Challenges are under way in numerous states why great concerns have been raised about the impact of the latest rounds of redistricting on the fairness of the upcoming elections. Vote dilution is the process through the use of redistricting plans and other voting practices minimize or cancel out the voting strength of particular voters, often voters of color.


Ahead of the upcoming elections, it is important to be aware of the impact of redistricting in your community and find out more about the changes made in your state. Use the resources below to find out more about redistricting, the problems created by Gerrymandering and more.

Links:

The Washington Post - What Is Redistricting?

The Brennan Center For Justice - Gerrymandering Explained

FiveThirtyEight - What Redistricting Looks Like In Every State

Vote.org - Polling Place Locator

Your Polling Station and/or Location may have changed since the last election - use this tool to locate your current station

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