Redrawing Democracy: How ‘Hack’ Gerrymandering Tactics Threaten Electoral Process

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

With the completion of the 2020 census, the process of redrawing congressional districts proves to be another area where partisan politics are rearing their ugly head. Particularly in state legislatures where the redrawing of districts could shift the power balance for the next decade.

In Texas, the fight is hard, as it has been called the “crown jewel of redistricting,” Vicky Hausman, co-founder of Forward Majority, a Democratic organization that targeted key Republican-led legislatures in the Nov. 3 elections, told the Associated Press.

Typically, the redrawing of congressional districts is under the control of the majority party, under gubernatorial approval.

These maps are drawn in a way that benefits the controlling party, and these districts are so wildly drawn that the process has earned the nickname “gerrymandering.” Gerrymandering has a history linked with corrupt political machines. The term was coined in 1812 after Governor Elbridge Gerry approved a map that resembled a salamander, according the Smithsonian. Hence the term “Gerry-mander.”

There have been no measures or guidelines to properly draw districts and both parties are guilty of using this tactic to their advantage, according to NPR. Regardless of the demographics of a city or town, districts can be drawn so that the ruling party can maintain their positions. This has greater implications not just for state legislatures but on the national level as well.

Such a use of hack tactics would widen the gulf between parties and ensure that our democracy will become hollow in time. This is a problem that must be solved now.

There should be measures to guide the drawing of maps, yet it is unclear how those parameters should be set up. Ideally, this should be accomplished through economic parameters such as median income and other factors. In that way, there would be a more accurate representation of the district instead of some arbitrary map that wildly misrepresents the community.

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