Gerrymandering: See How A Lizard and a Politician Have Created A Tool to Undo Democracy
William A. Gralnick
For anyone who follows the political news, the term Gerrymandering is all over it. Understanding where the term comes from, what it means, and how it works is critical for those who know and those who don’t know. Let’s begin with its meaning.
According to Meriam Webster, Gerrymandering is the practice of dividing or arranging a territorial unit into election districts in a way that gives one political party an unfair advantage in elections. Three others representing diverse fields weigh in. Writer, commentator and former reporter for the Miami Carl Hiaasen commented, To an untrained eye, the proposed boundaries look like etchings of a mapmaker on heavy pharmaceuticals. In reality, it is a masterpiece of diabolical gerrymandering.
Journalists Amanda Salazar pointed out that after nearly a decade of representing adjacent Brooklyn communities in Congress, Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke almost had an unexpected and new primary election where they would have faced off against each other. This resulted as the New York Independent Redistricting Committee reapportioned districts. Were it not for a battle in the courts and in public opinion, the original map would not have been ruled unconstitutional, another map rejected that was drawn by a consultant, and there would have been a 50–50 chance that Hakeem Jeffries wouldn’t be minority leader of the House.
In April of 2021, the Brooklyn’s “The Brownstones” called gerrymandering in Brooklyn “out of control. Brooklyn, it said, abounds with odd-shaped territories” that stretch across neighboring communities. This can put pieces of neighborhoods in different districts and can make community planning a nightmare.
Commentator Peter Beinart says, Bipartisan gerrymandering following the 2000 reapportionment produced hundreds of safe Democratic seats, hundreds of safe Republican seats, and not much else. But hold your horses? What’s with reapportionment?
Every ten years, there’s a census. The number of seats in the house is fixed at 435. Simply put, if one district’s number goes up, another’s have to go down. In many states,the state legislatures draw the districts. Now, re-read Hiaasen’s comment. Whichever law governs the drawing of districts, whichever party controls the legislature stretches that law until a court says it was broken. Thus, districts are drawn in a way that would include the…