In 1812, Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry had passed into law newly drawn Congressional districts to favor his party (the Democratic-Republican Party). Critics charged that the one particular district looked like a salamander leading the Boston Gazette was first to use the word “Gerry-mander,” which was a combination of the Governor’s last name and the amphibian creature. Ever since, the drawing of congressional and state legislative districts has been an important tool used by both political parties.
Consistent with the 14th Amendment, every ten years after the decennial census (decennial is a fancy word meaning every ten years), the state legislatures redraw both state legislative and congressional districts. Just as Governor Gerry and the Democratic-Republicans did in 1812, today, both Democratic and Republican partisans use reapportionment (the process of drawing new districts) to create state legislative and congressional districts to the advantage of their respective parties.
First, go to the website: www.ReDistrictingGame.org
Click the Link “Play the Game” to play “The ReDistricting Game.” Complete the various district drawing challenges in the game! CAUTION: this game is very addicting!
After playing the game, make a discussion post addressing the following:
- What was your experience with the Gerrymandering game? Did anything surprise you?
- Is it possible to create a “neutral,” “fair,” or “equal” system for drawing legislative districts? What would be “fair”? What would be or “equal”? What would be “neutral”? How would “neutral,” “fair,” or “equal” be objectively defined and measured?
- Could Gerrymandering actually be a good thing?