Gerrymandering through the method of redistricting poses a grave threat to our democracy. Redistricting is the redrawing of voting districts to reflect the census data collected every decade. Redistricting is supposed to be a bipartisan process that is reflective of the population, but laws surrounding the practice allow for partisan manipulation and racial discrimination. The practices of including or excluding specific groups from specific districts, also called gerrymandering, allow for districts to be redrawn so that the district favors one political party over another in elections and is inherently undemocratic Section 2 of the Voting Rights Acts (VRA) prohibits any voting requirements or processes that result in the “abridgment” of voting rights based on race, color, or membership in a language minority regardless of the intent. The Department of Justice, or DOJ, uses section 2 in conjunction with section 5 of the VRA to prevent discrimination in redistricting. Section 5 of the VRA requires certain jurisdictions, those determined to have a history of discrimination, to have their voting law changes approved by the federal government before they go into effect. The VRA is supposed to protect voters, yet gerrymandering practices still influence elections. Below is a look at some of the factors that play a role.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Journal of Equal Rights and Social Justice website on December 5, 2022. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Andha, Arisha, "Redistricting: Federal Law, State Constitution, and the Courts" (2022). ERSJ Blog. 41.