GERRYMANDERING -- HOW POLITICIANS CHOOSE THEIR VOTERS

     We in Massachusetts know a lot about gerrymandering.  We invented it.  Now we’re talking about how it can be changed, even outlawed.

     On Monday evening, February 12, gerrymandering – the practice of carving up Congressional districts for political advantage – was discussed at Smith College Campus Center.  A panel discussion in the Campus Center Carroll Room will feature Congressman Jim McGovern, Represent.US founder Josh Silver, political science professor Adam Hilton of Mount Holyoke College and math/statistics professor Nathan Guillen of UMass.

       A hundred people filled the room in the Campus Center.  Read about the event here.

     Gerrymandering gets its name from the 1812 redistricting under Massachusetts governor Eldridge Gerry (pronounced Gary.) Because one of the new districts resembled a salamander, a Boston paper called the technique gerrymandering.

     It was done for years, by both parties, but since 2000, computers and data analysis have made it something of an art form.  And an enemy to democracy.

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     How much difference does gerrymandering make?  In 2012, Democrats won a slim majority of votes for the House of Representatives.  Yet Republicans won a 33-seat advantage in the House.  Recent elections have seen similar distortions.  Many redistricting plans are being challenged in court.

     Appeals courts have found recent gerrymandering to be unconstitutional in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.  The US Supreme Court is currently considering the Pennsylvania case. 

     Come learn about gerrymandering, how it works for politicians and against you, and how you can fight it.

     Free and open to the public.

Click here for an Atlantic Monthly article on gerrymandering.  

 

Bruce WatsonComment