What Is Gerrymandering?
Dividing a territorial unit into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the opposition in as few districts as possible. Gerrymandering is legal; however, racial and extreme partisan gerrymandering are not. The NC state legislature is responsible for drawing district maps after every census and it is customary that the party in power draws map boundaries in order to benefit themselves. New software map-drawing and data-driven voter analysis methods have created “gerrymandering on steroids,” enabling the party in charge to pinpoint and isolate opposition voters.
Current Congressional Districts
Below is an image of the current Congressional Districts in Western North Carolina, and how it is drawn through Asheville.
Gerrymandering greatly reduces officeholder accountability to the voters because they are in safe districts. 40% of the 2016 state legislative races had NO OPPOSITION in the general election. It means voters do not have a real choice, so politicians don’t have to compete for their votes. Competition is absolutely essential for democracy and gerrymandering is a prime suspect in the cause of political/electoral gridlock. It eliminates moderate ideology, and can facilitate extreme agendas–the passing of House Bill 2 is just one example of this.
The League of Women Voters has filed 5 lawsuits since the NC legislature redrew the districts in 2011 and SCOTUS has affirmed that NC districts have been racially gerrymandered. It is time for a change!
Gerrymander 5k Event
A local 5k to show the perniciousness of gerrymandering and what it looks like in your own neighborhood. Read more about this event and consider setting up a Gerrymander 5k event in your community.
Additional Information on Gerrymandering
The most obvious defense against partisan gerrymandering is for disinterested parties to conduct redistricting processes in the open, using open source analytical tools, with the purpose of creating districts that will satisfy existing regulations and meet the intentions of both US and state constitutions. The primary partisan gerrymandering metric used until recently has been symmetry, but it has a number of weaknesses that keep it from serving as a legal standard. The League has developed a brief and accessible introduction to the metrics used to assess the presence of partisan gerrymandering in electoral redistricting. The paper includes a description of the electoral district features that are measured and the most common approaches used to measure them. It also presents a couple of newly developed techniques, one of which is before the Supreme Court.
FiveThirtyEight’s six-part podcast series exploring how states draw electoral districts and what’s being done to try to reform the process. Listen here.
A great article from the Asheville Citizen-Times outlining gerrymandering, how it’s affected our state and how current court cases may affect North Carolina. Below are graphs derived from some of the data in the article. Read here.