One person, one vote



August 2, 2022

The book is an interesting description of the use of gerrymandering as the practice of shaping electoral districts to ensure electoral victory. It is observed that gerrymandering is a fundamentally undemocratic practice that privileges some votes over others, especially the moneyed, well-connected, White, and conservative. The author traces the history of gerrymandering beyond its supposedly American origins to the English tradition of rotten boroughs dating to the 13th century, with small numbers of voters attaining electoral power out of proportion to their numbers and members of Parliament propped up by corrupt measures. Things have not changed much over time. As the author notes, the 19th century was the heyday of gerrymandering as practiced by nearly every party, so that in one Ohio election, as a contemporary observed, if the Whigs won the state by 10,000 votes, they would still earn only seven congressional representatives while their opponents would have twice as many with the same count. The author shows how gerrymandering has been practiced by both major parties in recent years, with procedural road maps now followed by the GOP often laid out by their Democratic predecessors. Led by the GOP, redistricting is ongoing across the country today, largely with an eye to being sure that districts are safe—read: rotten—and, through disenfranchisement measures, not susceptible to being turned by unwanted minorities. In a concluding call to action, the author writes: “How much do you really know about redistricting in your state? If the answer is not much, well, that’s what the career politicians already huddling behind the scenes with teams of redistricting professionals, attorneys, political scientists, and strategists are hoping for. Democracy dies in darkness.” TW


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