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Gerrymandering Rampant, Out Of Control

Jonathan Stoller-Schoff |
November 5, 2012 | 9:27 a.m. PST


This was the first political cartoon concerning Gerrymandering - and how its name came to be. (Public Domain)
This was the first political cartoon concerning Gerrymandering - and how its name came to be. (Public Domain)
Redistricting in a politically manipulative way—or gerrymandering, for short—is a rampant issue in our political system, and it has gotten out of control.

I live in a suburb of Chicago, and this election is the first in which I voted in my new district. Traditionally, I have always lived in the 8th district of Illinois. The representative race in that district has gotten some national attention—Joe Walsh, the Republican incumbent, is facing serious competition from Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic candidate and disabled war veteran. 

Joe Walsh, a proud member of the Tea party, recently said, “With advances in science and technology, health of the mother has become a tool for abortions for any time under any reason.” Meanwhile, Tammy Duckworth has an excellent record in the Office of Veterans Affairs, and has views that I find much more palatable. Needless to say, I was excited to vote in this election. 

So off I went to vote early. When I got to the representative section of the ballot, however, I discovered that my new district puts me in the 6th congressional district. This is especially confusing, seeing as my neighbors—on both sides of my house—are in the eight district. In fact, of the eight houses on my cul-de-sac, there are three houses in the 6th district, and five houses in the 8th district.

This can’t be politically effective. Sure, the political makeup of my street may be diverse, but it’s ridiculous to divide a cul-de-sac so that every other house belongs to a different congressional district. This brings us back to the issue of gerrymandering. It’s not just that I didn’t get to vote in the more important election, but it’s that so many people have a similar story. This map of Illinois congressional districts shows just how ridiculous this problem has become.

Gerrymandering isn’t just a ridiculous aspect of our system: it is part of a larger problem. It allows the powerful to stay in power, and the longer a party stays in power, the harder it becomes for the others to have a voice. The more gerrymandered a system becomes, the more it disenfranchises voters.

When did our political system become about covering up the voice of the people to ensure the success of the agenda of the politically powerful? I wish I could say that’s a hypothetical, overly dramatic question, but gerrymandering truly allows parties to ignore the votes of different people, even sometimes the majority.

Promoting our legislators' job security and the agenda of political parties should always come second to the voice of the people. In fact, should anything else really matter?


Reach Contributor Jonathan Stoller-Schoff here.



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