Ciboski: The Effects Of Gerrymandering

Mar 6, 2019

In a recent commentary, I mentioned that long-time adviser to presidents Joe Califano cited the gerrymander, which is the drawing of political boundaries for Congressional districts to give a political party a numerical advantage in an election, as the pre-eminent cause of "congressional crippling or the inability of Congress to accomplish certain legislative goals and also to serve as an effective check on presidential power."

Some of the effects of gerrymandering can be seen in the results of some of the 2018 Congressional elections cited by Califano in his 2018 book, Our Damaged Democracy.

In Pennsylvania, the statewide vote in Congressional races split 54 percent for Republicans and 47 percent for Democrats. Republicans won 72 percent or thirteen of the House seats. Democrats won only 28 percent of the seats for a total of five seats.

In North Carolina, the statewide vote in Congressional races was 54 percent for Republicans and 47 percent for Democrats. Yet, Republicans won 77 percent or ten of the House seats while the Democrats won only 23 percent or three of the House seats.

In Connecticut, Democrats won 58 percent of the statewide Congressional vote, and the Republicans 35 percent of the statewide vote. The election results: Democrats won all five Congressional seats rendering Republican votes for Congressional candidates virtually worthless.

For most states, redistricting of Congressional districts is done by state legislatures.

The moral of this is that your vote for state legislative candidates and for governor can determine a redistricting plan for your state's U.S. House of Representatives members and also for districts of both houses of a state's legislature, which also much meet the same requirements of one-person, one-vote and equally populated districts required by the Supreme Court for the United States House of Representatives districts.