Monday, March 6, 2017

Gerrymandering: Unconstitutional and Unaffordable

By Tom Frazier

“Gerrymander” is defined as: “To divide (an area) into political units to give special advantage to one group.” It was named after Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Massachusetts, who in 1812 signed a law redistricting state election districts. One district in Essex County was described as looking like a salamander, thus the word “Gerrymander” was created by combining the names.

Wisconsin has one of the worst cases in the country of using gerrymandering to give “special advantage to one group” – in this case Republicans in the state legislature. But gerrymandering is a bi-partisan problem according to Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. The two worst Democratic states are Rhode Island and Maryland, while Wisconsin and North Carolina comprise the two worst Republican states Heck reports. The big difference is that Wisconsin is the first such state to have a three-judge federal appeals panel rule that Wisconsin’s redistricting law “constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.” The panel voted 2-1 to direct the state to develop a new redistricting plan and have it in place by November 1, 2017 for the 2018 elections.