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What is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is the drawing of electoral district lines to benefit one political party over another.  The goal is to help the political party win more seats in the legislature, or more easily protect the ones it currently holds [Prokop, 2014].  Congressional representatives do this by maximizing the influence of supporters while reducing the impact of opponents [Gutenberg, 2015].  Gerrymandering can be accomplished through two strategies: “Cracking” or “Packing.”

What is Packing?

Packing is when a political party draws all of its opponents in to one or two electoral districts.  The result is that party supporters make up the bulk of residents in the remaining districts.  These majorities, by consequence, allow the party to win extra seats in the legislature as well as protect incumbent candidates.

What is Cracking?

Cracking is when a political party splits opponents into multiple districts in order to dilute their influence in an election.  The result is that opponents are not able to gain the majorities they need in any one district to get a candidate elected to office.  An inability to build these majorities inherently hands the election over to the predominant party.

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