How to gerrymander: Drawing maps that ensure victory

Imagine you are a political party. At present, you control the legislature and executive of your state government and you have the power to draw the maps that divide the state into Congressional and legislative districts. You want to ensure that you retain control of the legislature in future elections, even if the voting public shifts away from you. Can you do that with district maps?

Or you are a group of self-interested officials who can make their own individual lives easier by manipulating district maps. Remove the potential well-funded and popular competitor for your seat. Grab a few more likely voters and give away a neighborhood that you lost last time. Keep your biggest donor in your district. Can you do that with district maps?

Yes, that’s precisely what gerrymandering is. With publicly available information, one can draw maps that carefully allocate likely voters in your party and likely voters in the opposition party to districts in order to ensure that your party is over represented. The objective is to make the opposing party waste as many votes as possible and make your party waste as few as possible. We think of a vote as “wasted” if it goes to a losing candidate or if it goes to a winning candidate beyond the margin necessary to win. The two techniques for creating wasted votes are “cracking” and “packing.” Read more>>

This information is provided by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina through their VotersRule2020 site. We are grateful to the LWV of SC for their efforts to educate South Carolinians about redistricting. Their Biennial Convention takes place May 3 & 4 in Charleston, SC.

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