What is redistricting, what is gerrymandering, and why is this issue important? Check out this primer, courtesy of Daron Taylor at The Washington Post.
Every 10 years, the United States federal government counts everybody in the country, called the Census. Governments then use that data to draw voting districts on the local, state, and federal level for the next ten years. This process is called redistricting.
Gerrymandering occurs when this politicians draw electoral boundaries in a specific way to give themselves an advantage, either over the opposing party or to protect incumbency. Both parties do it, whether it’s Democrats in Illinois and Maryland or Republicans in Texas and North Carolina.
Armed with data and specialized software, and usually operating in secret, the political party in power is able to either pack voters of the other party into a few districts, so as to contain their influence, or to crack a few districts and sprinkle opposing voters among them, diffusing their impact in any one district. The result? Representatives have little incentive to listen to opposition or work across the aisle.
Gerrymandering has become the bug in the operating system of democracy.