What Is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is the process of manipulating political district boundaries to benefit a particular political party. Elected officials redraw district lines every decade, and the party in power can use the opportunity to move boundaries to minimize opponents’ votes and increase their odds of staying in power.

Gerrymandering often results in oddly shaped districts, where cities, townships and even neighborhoods are split and sliced apart. The practice can be used to limit the power of particular demographics of people, typically minority populations as categorized by by race, socioeconomic class or religion.

Two primary tactics for gerrymandering are “cracking” and “packing.” Cracking refers to drawing lines such that similar voters are split into multiple districts, thereby limiting their collective power. Packing is the opposite, when lines are drawn to keep voters of a particular bent in a single district, to limit their influence in other districts.

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