President Trump has spent the last few months screaming about "election fraud" because of mail in voting, also known as "absentee voting". According to him, the election will be rigged or foreign governments will tamper with ballots or your pet dog will cast a vote. Never mind the fact, the President, his children, and various other members of his cabinet all vote by mail.
Recently, Democrats and even some Republicans have been appalled at the recent actions by the Postmaster General. He ordered the removal of sorting machines, mailboxes; cut down overtime hours and personnel. This was in response to the revenue shortfall the USPS has faced for the last several years. But, seems a bit coincidental this is all happening a few months before a record number of votes are to be cast through the mail because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
With the President casting doubt over the election and the USPS seemingly making it harder for you to cast your vote through mail, people are worried about voter suppression, one of the major sins of a democracy. Yet, both parties won't talk about the voter suppression they both openly take part in.
What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is when the state legislature manipulates the state district lines so that the party in power gains a political advantage when voters vote.
What the f*** does that mean?
Everyone knows when someone they know is a vegan because that person tells the world they're a vegan 10 times a day.
Imagine in a room, there are 50 people. Now, these 50 people are going to be divided into 5 groups and each group is going to vote for one of the two lunch options available. A cheeseburger or sauteed cauliflower (or whatever Vegans eat). Depending on how each group votes, it will determine how much of each of the lunch options they will order.
Next, we find out 20 of the people in this group are vegans and 30 are meat eaters. The people are now divided in 5 groups:
Group 1 has 10 meat eaters and 2 Vegans
Group 2 has 10 meat eaters and 2 Vegans
Group 3 has 4 meat eaters and 5 Vegans
Group 4 has 4 meat eaters and 5 Vegans
Group 5 has 2 meat eaters and 6 Vegans
All the groups vote (Vegans 3 / meat eaters 2) and it turns out this is going to be the worst lunch ever. People are going to die from starvation.
The way you divided those groups up was so random.....
That's what you call gerrymandering. You see, state legislatures have the ability to re-draw district lines. So if the state legislature is majority Republicans, they can re-draw district lines so that they pack Democrats into fewer districts. By doing this, they can gain extra seats in the House of Representatives. The vegan/meat eater example above shows how it's possible to do so.
This isn't a tactic only Republicans use, Democrats use it as well. By packing the opposition party into fewer districts it effectively wastes the extra votes in that district.
How do states get allocated the number of House of Representatives?
There are 435 members in the House of Representatives. Each state is allocated a portion of that dependent on their population according to the census.
The state districts are re-drawn after the census is completed every 10 years. (Be sure to fill out your census this year)
Has gerrymandering worked?
It works great. Case in point, North Carolina.
In 2018, North Carolina had the same amount of Republican votes as Democratic votes for Congressional races. However, out of the 13 districts in North Carolina, 10 went Republican while 3 went Democrat.
North Carolina's map is filled with bizarre lines and shapes. It's all because the state legislature packed Democrat voters into fewer districts. Now, the districts must be somewhat even when it comes to population. It's not as if they can put 5 million folks in one district and 10k in another. There has to be some sort of balance but looking at the Vegan/meat eater example above you can see that it can be done.
How is this legal?
In June of 2019, the US Supreme Court said this was not an issue they would rule on but is up to the states instead.
To combat an obvious issue, many states have put this particular issue on their ballot boxes on election day. They want the voters to vote on if they think the districts should be re-drawn every 10 years by an independent commission rather than the state legislature that's in power at the time.
In addition, state Supreme Courts not Federal courts are able to rule on this matter. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map as violating the state constitution, demonstrating how state constitutions can be used to overturn maps for excessive partisan gerrymandering even if federal courts have no say.
Do not let anyone take away your fundamental right to vote. It's one of the most sacred freedoms and rights you have as an American citizen. As the last few years have demonstrated, who we vote into office, whether it's the Presidency, Congress or Governors Mansion, has a profound impact on our lives.
Gerrymandering is a tactic used by both parties to dilute your vote. Our politicians scream out against voter suppression but both parties are complicit in a voter suppression tactic that is right there in front of us on a God damn map.