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What Is Gerrymandering?

Most reading this guide have likely heard of the term, gerrymandering, but may not be aware of its origins. The term, gerrymandering, the political practice of redrawing district boundaries to favor a particular political party, originated in 1812. That year, Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, approved a state senate map that a political cartoonist thought resembled a salamander. It also happened to dramatically advantage the Democratic-Republican party, which controlled the State legislature. And so, the term was borne.15

More recent examples of Gerrymandering include Ohio's "Lake Erie Monster" and Pennsylvania's "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck."16

Gerrymandering is used to favor political parties, and it can also facilitate discrimination. Certainly, it is often an instrument of incumbent protection even when practiced by a single political party.

15 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/where-did-term-gerrymander-come-180964118/, Accessed on April 27, 2021.

16 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/where-did-term-gerrymander-come-180964118/, Accessed on April 27, 2021.