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The problem with gerrymandering | The Triangle

The problem with gerrymandering

Wikimedia: Messedrocker
Wikimedia: Messedrocker

With this week’s Pennsylvania primaries bringing tensions over the looming political future to an all-time high, it is useful to take a step back to understand what exactly is going on behind the scenes when casting your vote. The topic of fraudulent elections is always hotly contested by the losing party, citing miscounts and rigged voting machines, but few take up the cry of gerrymandering. No, that is not in fact, a made-up word, but the biggest threat to our political system today. Gerrymandering entails the redrawing of the district boundaries by the incumbent party to resection the voters into a certain arrangement. This seemingly harmless expression of power has a darker side that goes a long way to keeping states solidly in either the red or blue, never in between, and never locked in a true power struggle that would forge a truly great reigning body.

The way that the electoral college works and why this is such an issue is that each of these districts vote and if the majority comes up republican, the entire state’s electoral college delegates go to the republican candidate. The party only needs the majority in this winner-takes-all system so winning just twenty-eight districts in the state of California guarantees the fifty-five delegates, despite the fact that twenty-seven districts are at odds with this decision. A deviously clever individual could see this and redraw the borders so that a couple of areas just happen to encompass the majority of the democrats in a state, while most of the districts are safely in republican hands. It does not even matter that 60 percent of the state voted for the Democratic Party, the republicans still get the entire state under the current system.

There are, of course, some rules that have to be followed when redrawing the lines, but these rules are essentially guidelines to necessitate the usage of the truly conniving mind of a politician. Each district must be continuous in some way and each must have roughly the same population to give the elections some gossamer threads of civility. At some points, to get around this rule, voting areas are connected by a single street to pack in as many people from the opposing party into one area. The ruling party will sacrifice one battle to win the ensuing war. All this time we tell people to vote and that their votes matter while the very system they vote for conspires against them to choke out the very life of democracy. I am not calling out any one party here. Both participate in this gerrymandering to rousing success. I guess what I am saying is that there is no honor among thieves, and I think stealing the election is sufficient to earn that moniker.

As far as solutions go, I find that there are two promising enough to warrant discussion. One would be to follow in the footsteps of Maine and Nebraska and allot delegates based on the amount of districts won, splitting them if necessary. This means that if three districts are won by republicans in Nebraska and two are won by democrats, the delegates are split so that three go to the Republican Party and two to the Democratic Party. Instead of all five going to the Republican Party like all the other forty-eight states where the electoral college delegates are tiled out. This would, however, not solve the gerrymandering issue. It would only mitigate the effects as the numbers can only be stretched so far.

Another idea would be to allow computers to draw each of the boundaries fairly and evenly distributing the different parties. Based off of the most recent census, a computer can make each district depend on every single vote to win giving every individual the power to change the course of the election. The parties have equal opportunity to win the region and, by extension, the state.

After it is all said and done though, the only way to change everything is to vote to ensure that your party is in power when it comes time to redistrict. Most people do not care about the legitimacy of the elections so long as their party comes out on top. Most will place victory over fairness and that, not gerrymandering, is the biggest political challenge that America faces as a country.