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Gerrymandering

A DEFINITION:
gerrymandering: Gerrymandering is a type of voter suppression that used to thwart the will of the majority by tilting the boundaries of legislative districts to a particular political party’s favor. 

CONTEXT & HISTORY:
Gerrymandering is a way that governing parties try to cement themselves in power by tilting the political map steeply in their favor. The goal is to draw boundaries of legislative districts so that as many seats as possible are likely to be won by the party’s candidates. Drafters accomplish it mainly through two practices commonly called “packing” and “cracking.” A packed district is drawn to include as many of the opposing party’s voters as possible. That helps the governing party win surrounding districts where the opposition’s strength has been diluted to create the packed district. Cracking does the opposite: It splits up clusters of opposition voters among several districts, so that they will be outnumbered in each district. An efficiently gerrymandered map has a maximum number of districts that each contain just enough governing-party supporters to let the party’s candidates win and hold the seat safely, even during “wave” elections when the opposition does especially well. And it packs the opposition’s supporters into a minimum number of districts that the opposition will win overwhelmingly. (What is Gerrymandering? And How Does it Work? by Michael Wines)

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