gerrymander

gerrymander (jĕrˈēmănˌdər, gĕr–) [key], in politics, rearrangement of voting districts so as to favor the party in power. The objective is to create as many districts as possible in areas of known support and to concentrate the opposition's strength into as few districts as possible. Extremely irregular boundary lines are sometimes necessary to obtain the results desired. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has placed (1964) the vague limit of "compact districts of contiguous territory" on such apportionment schemes. The origin of the term, though by no means the origin of the practice, was in such an arrangement made by the Massachusetts Jeffersonians when Elbridge Gerry was governor.

See E. C. Griffith, The Rise and Development of the Gerrymander (1907, repr. 1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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