politics

Electoral Politicking and Gerrymandering

In an election, especially a presidential one, we the people are supposed to be electing the person we want to be the president for the next four years. Our choice usually comes down to one of two people. They have often fought a bitter internecine battle with a colleague from their own party, which has been a parade of dirty tricks and mudslinging. Often a bitter battle where no topics are beyond the pale and collateral damage is frequent.

Having won the party nomination, this leader is supposed to reunite the party and go through the same process one more time, but this time the gloves come off as there is no question of ultimate camaraderie. This is a battle for power.

When a winner from this stage emerges, we are all supposed to watch a statesman arise phoenix-like from the ashes of the campaigns and become the leader of the free world. Did you ever wonder why states people are rare?

Everyone knows elections are not fair

If everyone who was eligible to vote had one vote and it was counted singly, the counting time might take longer, although that’s arguable. One could argue that it was a legitimate view of whom the majority saw as its choice for president.

elections

But in practice, the country is broken down into states and then the states into electoral districts. In this way, it is possible for the candidates to be sure that certain states will go their way, while they know they need to work on others.

The principles so far work – to an extent, that is. But they begin to break down when it becomes evident it is possible to draw the boundaries of the electoral districts in a way that will favor one candidate over another. This process is called gerrymandering, and it gives the advantage regardless of the population and the political split of the territory but based on oddly drawn boundaries which will allow weight to one side over another.

Who gets to draw the boundaries?

This is America, so it varies from state to state. But in most cases, the state legislature has the responsibility. There may be rules about it being a non-partisan group, but effectively the state governor usually appoints the commissioners. Guess what? Right, the appointment is often therefore partisan.

Moreover, it is a two-year process from start to finish, so depending on when the process starts it is possible to block a change between elections and make sure that if a change was leaning in either direction that it was reversed before the next election. To all intents, a majority party can block a change in the lines for years.

If this upsets you …

Hopefully, this does upset you, and if so, what can be done about it? Here’s the rub, this practice is so long established and so systemic we tend to believe there is nothing that can be done.

But there is one thing, could you please get out and vote?