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People and Planet: Upcoming congressional elections reignite debates over gerrymandering

With a total of 469 seats in Congress up for election this coming November, longstanding debates over gerrymandering in the U.S. are cropping up with the same worn-out, ineffective solutions being recycled. On top of being an issue that has followed American politics throughout much of history, the continuously partisan nature of the current political climate is making finding a solution harder than before.

There are two important nuances to be aware of when discussing gerrymandering. First of all, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of perpetuating gerrymandering in their own way, but of the 12 most severely gerrymandered states, over half are skewed to favor Republicans

Second, gerrymandering chronically puts racial and ethnic minorities at a disadvantage by packing different groups into different districts and cutting districts into shapes that make no sense except for helping one party over another.

An example of this is a form of majority-minority districts, minority now referring to a numerical political minority. In Alabama, Democrats believe that Black voters are packed into the seventh district, diluting the power of their votes as an attempt to give the Republicans more power. “Packing” districts by race, income, political leanings and other demographics has been a long-standing practice in redistricting in order to slight one party or help another.

Ohio is also developing a debased reputation for gerrymandering, specifically to keep Republicans at an advantage. Despite voters supporting anti-gerrymandering reforms within the state, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, created 15 new districts in November 2021 designed to keep a strong conservative hold on the state. 

Gerrymandering no doubt plays a role in why 82 percent of Americans say that they are concerned about corruption within the government with only 2 percent saying they believe that voting works all the time. Regardless of who exactly voters believe is fueling corruption, a truly effective democracy would not have this great lack of trust in the government, a trust which gerrymandering is no doubt continuing to erode.

Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of gerrymandering upheld by such prominent people, it is hard to say if or when real change will occur. Time after time, politicians put their political ambitions and what they can continue to line their pockets with ahead of what their job really is: representing the people, not their own personal agendas. 

Gerrymandering is a prime example of something that helps no one except the politicians who gain power from manipulating districts and thus, the people whose best interest they supposedly have in mind. 

However, because of how unpopular gerrymandering is among both Democrats and Republicans, this is a unique issue in the sense that it is a cause that voters of both parties could get behind as it has the potential to hurt both sides. Bipartisan grassroots movements could go a long way here but ultimately it is up to each state’s legislature or commission to enact such change that district maps actually start to make sense.

Meg Diehl is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.

Meg Diehl

Assistant Opinion Editor

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