Op-Ed: Supreme Court Says Election Rigging (Partisan Gerrymandering) Is Legal


Photo Credit: Sam Felder, Flickr Creative Commons

In a democracy, the most important factor in determining who controls power should be the popular will of the people.

The reality is that every ten years in most states politicians draw the lines of battle by drawing the districts we vote in for our State Legislatures and Congress. The way politicians design these districts can effectively steal votes and rig elections. 10 to 15 percent of the total vote can be in essence stolen, depending on how a computer is programmed to draw districts. The term that is used for the practice of drawing district lines for political gain is gerrymandering, but it really should be called election rigging. Many states do not have any protections in place to prevent election rigging when districts are redrawn. You would think that a Supreme Court that wishes to uphold democracy would see this, and determine that gerrymandering that is clearly designed to undermine the people’s will and deprive them of representation would be a violation of America’s Constitution. Instead, the Supreme Court went in the exact opposite direction, saying that though gerrymandering is harmful, the Constitution did not grant them the power to ensure democratic values are upheld rather than manipulated. 

There are numerous examples of gerrymandering which show the undemocratic advantage that can be gained by political parties that gerrymander. Easily, a party that gerrymanders can convert a toss-up state such as Wisconsin or North Carolina into a state that has supermajorities of one party in its Legislatures. Time and again, we have seen gerrymandering lead to undemocratic results. Worst of all, the districts that are drawn through gerrymandering are there for ten years, so the vote is rigged for five Congressional elections. Gerrymandering is in fact more harmful than clearly illegal activity such as a scheme that would take votes out of ballot boxes because such a scheme would only affect one election. 

Credit: Steve Nass, Wikimedia Creative Commons

To solve this problem, which people of both parties widely oppose, we as a country need to illegalize and criminalize gerrymandering/election rigging. Congress needs to pass a law providing for;  (1) absolute transparency regarding the drawing of district lines in each State; and (2) certification under oath by at least one dozen legislators in each state that voted on redistricting lines (in states where Legislators determine the lines) that political gain took no part in the decision.  Legislators who choose to gerrymander should be thrown in jail because tens of thousands of votes are being stolen each election. 

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Ending gerrymandering would also pay dividends. Gerrymandering is a significant contributing factor to the polarization of our politics. The intent of gerrymandering is to create safe districts for both parties where incumbent politicians are insulated from the pendulum of centrist electoral preferences. Fairly drawing districts would likely lead to more swing districts which would need moderate politicians who would be willing to work across the aisle to please their multi-party coalition of voters. 

When it comes to our elections, unfair is unacceptable. We must uphold America’s ideals and end gerrymandering once and for all. Attacking/rigging our democracy should be a crime.  The time is now to end gerrymandering before redistricting occurs in advance of the 2022 elections.

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