What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering, the partisan drawing of voting maps, has always been a part of American politics. The term itself dates back to 1812 and incorporates the name of Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, who signed a bill approving voting maps that favored his party. At the time, the Boston Gazette suggested that the contorted shape of one district resembled a salamander. Thus, we now use the term gerrymander to refer to voting districts specifically created to advantage one political party over another.
Why is Impartial Redistricting Important?
The way that district boundaries are drawn can determine or strongly influence who gets elected. Fair redistricting helps to ensure that our legislative bodies reflect our changing population and that each citizen’s vote counts equally. Fair districts can lead to:
More accountability to constituents because fewer seats are “safe” for members of one party.
More time and money spent addressing real legislative priorities, rather than litigating court challenges and redrawing maps that courts found to be gerrymandered.
More respect for communities of interest. Maintaining communities of interest ensures their ability to lobby effectively for those interests.
More voters who feel that their votes matter.
What is LWV-Wake Doing?
LWV-Wake's Redistricting Committee is actively advocating for a transparent process that incorporates impartial criteria for creating voting maps. The committee meets with legislators, observes legislative sessions, develops educational materials, makes presentations to the community, and writes letters to the editor. The committee co-chairs are Sheila Denn, Phyllis Demko, Mike Jennings, and Dianna Wynn. If you are a LWV-Wake member interested in joining the Redistricting Committee, please contact Sheila Denn.
Redistricting Reform Resources
The resources below provide information for those wanting to learn more about redistricting reform and how to end gerrymandering. Many of the documents are useful for sharing with your legislators. (Simply click on the words in blue text to download PDF documents.)
Learn About the issue
Basic Fact Sheet - This one-page basic fact sheet summarizes the principles of impartial redistricting that the League supports and lists the benefits to legislators and voters.
Explanation of Terms - This document briefly summarizes key terms related to redistricting and gerrymandering.
Components of Redistricting Reform - This one-page document summarizes the elements of redistricting reform that promote nonpartisan criteria and a transparent process.
Drawing the Lines - This one-page summary explains how and when new voting district maps are created and who creates those maps.
Criteria Used in Other States - This one-page summary reviews the different redistricting criteria used in model states.
Need for Transparent processes
Reform & Transparent Process - This one-page document summarizes the need for impartial criteria and a transparent process.
Transparent Processes - This LWV-Wake report recommends best practices for transparent processes when a legislature draws new maps during redistricting.
Common Cause v Lewis Summary - This provides a short, clear summary of the case that successfully challenged partisan gerrymandering under the NC Constitution.
Brief Summary of Redistricting Lawsuits - This document briefly reviews the current status of lawsuits challenging racial and partisan gerrymandering.
Redistricting Reform & Litigation Rates - This one-page chart compares the number of redistricting lawsuits in North Carolina to the number of lawsuits in states that have adopted redistricting reform.
Summary of Metrics - This one-page chart summarizes the different mathematical measurements that can be applied to districts.
Measuring Gerrymandering - This document explains the different metrics for understanding and identifying gerrymandered districts. (This document was created by a Dare County League member.)
Guide to Action - This one-page handout describes what voters can do to support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering. (This handout should be distributed at any redistricting-related League events.)
Messaging Guide - The redistricting reform messaging guide is based on analyses of redistricting campaigns in other states and polling that was conducted in North Carolina. The guide should help Leaguers when they are developing written materials, public presentations, letters to the editor, social media posts, and public testimony.
Letter to the Editor Guidelines - This one-page document provides tips and guidelines for writing letters to the editor.
Request for Guest Speakers
LWV-Wake has a team of speakers that can speak to your group about redistricting reform. Our team members have been quoted in numerous media publications and broadcasts on the issue of gerrymandering, presented testimony before the redistricting committees in the legislature, met with legislators to advocate for redistricting reform, and spoken to other groups of concerned citizens in the community. For more information, contact Dianna Wynn at email@example.com.
Ratf**ked Book Discussion Toolkit
Discussion Toolkit - This is an extensive guide for facilitators leading a book discussion on David Daley's excellent book on redistricting, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. In addition to the complete toolkit, we have made both black and white and color versions available of the one-page handout of questions for book discussion participants. Click here for a color version of the handout. Click here for a black and white version (recommended if you need to be cost-conscious when reproducing handouts).
Redistricting Reform Campaign: Guide to Strategic Messaging in North Carolina
Messaging Guide - The redistricting reform messaging guide was developed specifically for use by members of the League of Women Voters. It is based on analyses of redistricting campaigns in other states and polling that was conducted in North Carolina. The messaging guide should help Leaguers when they are developing written materials, public presentations, letters to the editor, social media posts, public testimony, and so on.