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Grassroots Group Maps Out Plans to Fight Gerrymandering

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We are completing U.S. Census forms this spring. The results will be used by the federal government to decide how to spend taxpayer money; states will use the Census data to redraw electoral district boundaries starting next year.

The way the states redraw boundaries next year can affect who runs for office, who wins, or who stays in office without serious opposition. The boundaries that get created next year will last a decade, until after the next Census occurs. click here and click here and

Candidates for Congress or state Legislatures can run for office on a relatively level playing field, or compete in a district where the results are essentially pre-determined because of gerrymandering, a grassroots national group fighting the rigging of district boundaries contends.

Katie Vicsik, the Florida State Director for All On The Line, took time out from her organizing activities to do an email interview. She represents one group that is fighting gerrymandering across the country.

Question: Many readers have heard about gerrymandering. Some may have even heard of excessive gerrymandering. Can you define these terms? And give concrete examples of each?

Vicsik: To put it simply, gerrymandering is cheating. Any amount of gerrymandering is cheating, from one district in a state, to excessively gerrymandering an entire state.

After the 2020 Census, states will begin to draw their lines. If we do not get it right when maps are drawn in 2021, we will have to wait another 10 years to fix partisan gerrymandering, and see progress on the issues we care about most.

Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing those lines in a way that benefits one political party over the other, or drawing lines that intentionally favor or disfavors an elected official. A gerrymandered state means the district lines are drawn to enable one party to win fewer votes statewide, but still control more seats in government.

Currently, there are far too many district maps that have been deliberately manipulated to favor a political party. States have to redistrict; they certainly do not have to gerrymander.

Question: Why is it important to confront gerrymandering and excessive gerrymandering?

Vicsik: Politicians who represent a gerrymandered seat will most likely cater to the extremes of their party and special interests over the people they are supposed to represent and protect. Because of this, gerrymandering will lead to the gridlock and hyper-partisanship that so many Americans have grown tired of.

Gerrymandering touches so many issues that American care about. It creates a structural barrier that prevents progress on all of the important issues facing our countryclimate change, gun violence prevention, health care, reproductive rights, immigration reform. For example, a majority of Americans support common sense gun violence prevention solutions, yet it is hard to make progress due to gerrymandering.

Question: How does gerrymandering hurt a segment of the U.S. population? What segments of citizens are hurt most?

Vicsik: Gerrymandering is often most detrimental to communities who have historically been marginalized by either packing similar voters into a single district or splitting them into many districts to dilute their influence, or pick the representative of their choice.

Communities of color get hit the hardest by gerrymandering. Politicians often intentionally use data on race to draw district lines in a way that significantly diminishes minority voting power.

Question: Tell me about All On the Line. What is it? How long has it existed? Who formed it?

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Steve Schneider lives in Florida. He writes articles for Humor Times, Democracy Chronicles, The Satirist and OpEd News.

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