The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is gerrymander. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.
What It Means
To gerrymander is to divide a state, school district, etc. into political units or election districts that give one group or political party an unfair advantage.
// When politicians gerrymander, stretching their districts into absurd shapes just to maintain power, citizens often suffer the negative consequences.
GERRYMANDER in Context
“The House has to redraw its lines every decade to account for population shifts, and that redistricting process has long been dominated by partisans of both sides gerrymandering seats to benefit their party.” — Cameron Joseph, Vice, 10 Nov. 2022
Did You Know?
Elbridge Gerry was a respected politician in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He signed the Declaration of Independence, served as governor of Massachusetts (1810-1811), and was elected vice president under James Madison. While governor, he tried to change the shape of voting districts to help members of his political party get elected. His system resulted in some very oddly shaped districts, including one (Gerry’s home district) that looked a little like a newt. Upon seeing a map of the bizarre regional divisions, a member of the opposing party drew feet, wings, and a head on Gerry’s district and said “That will do for a salamander!” Another member called out “Gerrymander!” Thus gerrymander became a term for such political schemes.
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