Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Stephen R. Shalom
Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing political boundaries—especially the boundaries of legislative districts—in such a way as to obtain political advantage. The term derives from the claim of critics that a legislative district drawn by supporters of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812 was shaped like a salamander, or “Gerry-mander.” Consider the hypothetical region shown in Figure 1 , with supporters of party A indicated by the light squares and supporters of party B by the dark squares. In proportional voting systems, the fact that 22/36 of the voters support party A would mean that party A would get that proportion—22/36—of the representation. But in a winner-take-all voting system (as in the United States), the region must be divided into a fixed number of single-winner districts. Assume that by virtue of its population, the region is entitled to three legislators, and hence the region must be divided into three legislative ...