Written by Jackson Roberts.
Our nation is built on the idea that we have inherent power in choosing who we want representing us both on a state and federal level. It’s so important, in fact, that it’s even enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection for all under the Constitution.
Every ten years, the country undergoes a census to gauge population shifts and whether congressional seats need to be reapportioned based on growing and shrinking states. Every time the census is taken, states redraw their districts in order to represent the newly measured distributions of people.
However, this process is frequently corrupted by the party in power to give an unfair advantage to their candidates. Packing is when a specific populace is packed into as few districts as possible, while cracking dilutes their power by spreading out the opposition into areas that will most likely swing towards the favor of the party who drew the lines. This process seeks to manipulate maps to further partisan agendas.
In Illinois, Democrats drew the lines such that, in 2018, 20 of the 39 senators up for election faced no opponent because incumbent Republicans were placed into other districts. In North Carolina, Republicans drew the districts such that Republicans won 10 of the 13 House seats in 2016, when Democrats got 47% of the vote statewide. No matter your affiliation, this should be frightening since the representatives are not representative of the population. Not all gerrymandered maps are as egregious as Illinois and North Carolina, but any sort of unfair advantage for any party is as a threat to the very institutions we hold in high esteem.
The Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue of gerrymandering several times; the majority opinion in Reynolds v. Sims (1964) found that districts have to accurately reflect the population of the designated area: one person one vote. In Shaw v. Reno (1993), it was decided that district lines could not be drawn solely on the basis of race. This summer, a case presented to the Court arguing that political gerrymandering is an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment was ultimately punted back to the states, as the court found that “partisan gerrymandering claims are not justiciable because they present a political question beyond the reach of the federal courts.”
With modern technology, these issues can be resolved with computer models that can generate nonpartisan districts that genuinely represent the district and not just the party in power at the time. In addition, measures establishing counsels of Republicans, Democrats, and independents to draw nonpartisan lines have made the ballot in states like Colorado to try and reduce political gerrymandering as well. So, when elections can be predicted years in advance solely based on the biased maps, it undermines the principle that voting gives us a direct connection to D.C. Perhaps this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and elections should be won based on merit and integrity rather than partisan hacking at district lines.
The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the student and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation GenZ. GenZ welcomes well-written submissions from a variety of viewpoints.