Below you will find most frequently asked questions about redistricting and gerrymandering.
What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party. It's rather difficult succinctly so I recommend this Washington Post explanation. This blog post is also our take on Gerrymandering.
From a historical perspective, 'partisan gerrymandering has a long tradition in the United States that precedes the 1789 election of the First U.S. Congress. In 1788, Patrick Henry and his Anti-Federalist allies were in control of the Virginia House of Delegates. They drew the boundaries of Virginia's 5th congressional district in an unsuccessful attempt to keep James Madison out of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"The word gerrymander (originally written "Gerry-mander") was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on 26 March 1812. The word was created in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts state senate election districts under the then-governor Elbridge Gerry (pronounced /ˈɡɛri/; 1744–1814). In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander. Gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor's last name and the word salamander. The redistricting was a notable success. In the 1812 election, both the Massachusetts House and governorship were won by Federalists by a comfortable margin (costing Gerry his position), but the senate remained firmly in Democratic-Republican hands." ("https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering_in_the_United_States", n.d.)
Do the Republicans even care?
What we have found is that there is significant interest in redistricting reform from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. This is something that people from all parties can rally around and approach their legislators comfortably. Redistricting reform is about challenging the status quo, however, and we have to accept that we may not be successful in this legislative term (85th - 2017) but that doesn't mean we're going to stop trying. Nor should you. This is about making your vote count regardless of the party in power over district lines. That matters.
Where can I learn more?
There is a wealth of information on the internet available at your finger tips. Beyond just googling "Texas Gerrymandering" or "Texas redistricting," here are some articles, podcasts, and videos.
- Gerrymandering is even more infuriating when you see it on a map
- An Intelligence Squared podcast: Is Gerrymandering Destroying the Political Center?
- A Professor's Guide to Gerrymandering - how can the public engage?
- A one-hour video on how elections are rigged through Gerrymandering