Gerrymandering is defined as setting boundaries in electoral districts in order to give a political party an advantage. Redistricting is something that occurs in all states about every decade. While this is seen as a political exercise, in some instances, state legislators and governors control the redistricting and can give their political party an advantage over their opponents.
Gerrymandering first occurred when minorities were given the right to vote. Legislative bodies used gerrymandering to ensure that the political power of these voters was diminished. Today, gerrymandering may occur for various reasons, although there have been proposals for ways to prevent this from occurring. These proposals include hiring commissions for redistricting or putting alternative voting systems into place.
In some states, this practice is more common than in others. The top 10 most gerrymandered states in the U.S. include:
- North Carolina: Has used Districts 1 and 12 for minority voters.
- Maryland: Uses broken districts to give an advantage to Democrats.
- Pennsylvania: Divides its major urban areas among other districts.
- West Virginia: Changed six districts into just three.
- Kentucky: Places urban populations in rural districts.
- Louisiana: Combined Baton Rouge and New Orleans into one district to minimize Democratic votes.
- Utah: Divides Salt Lake City into surrounding rural districts.
- Texas: Has tried to propose districts that would unfairly affect minority voters.
- Arkansas: Has drawn district boundaries to balance out city voters with rural voters.
- Ohio: Unfairly distributed districts in a partisan way.