The History and Impact of Gerrymandering in Elections

TLDR Gerrymandering, which began in 1812, can have a significant impact on election outcomes by allowing a minority of voters to hold the majority of seats. Potential solutions to eliminate gerrymandering include having an independent commission create district boundaries, although even reasonably shaped districts can still be gerrymandered effectively.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Gerrymandering can significantly impact the outcome of an election, even if voters vote the same way, and this episode explores its history, how it works, and potential solutions to eliminate it.
02:14 Gerrymandering began in 1812 in Massachusetts when the Democratic Republicans attempted to redraw legislative districts in order to shut out the Federalists from the state Senate.
04:15 The term "gerrymandering" was coined in 1812 and quickly gained popularity, being used to describe oddly shaped districts in multiple states, and by 1820, it was in common use and added to the dictionary in 1864.
06:25 Gerrymandering can result in a minority of voters holding the majority of seats, as demonstrated by the example of redistricting to benefit one political party over another.
08:40 The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 1964 case of Westbury versus Sanders allowed for gerrymandering opportunities to appear every decade after each census, giving whoever controlled the redrawing of districts enormous power.
10:42 One solution to gerrymandering is to have an independent commission create the boundaries, as Iowa has done, but even reasonably shaped districts can be gerrymandered effectively.
12:48 Creating compact districts is not a solution to gerrymandering, as demonstrated by a computer programmer who was able to generate multiple maps with different results using the same voters but different district boundaries.
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