What Is “Gerrymandering?”

Posted by on Mar 10, 2010 in Featured | 1 comment

Governor Elbridge Gerry

The term “prison-based gerrymandering” is used to describe the practice of using prison populations to draw political districts. By counting prison populations as residents of the district in which they are incarcerated, the voting power of communities where prisons are located is inflated at the expense of other communities.

The word gerrymander was coined by a newspaper editor in reaction to a redrawing of Massachusetts electoral boundaries under the then-Governor, Elbridge Gerry 1744–1814, which included one sprawling supposedly salamander-shaped constituency.

The "Salamader" shaped district.

In 1812, Governor Gerry signed a bill into law that redistricted his state to benefit his Democratic-Republican party. One of the resulting contorted districts was said to resemble a salamander.[1] The term first appeared in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812.