Since 1790, the federal government has conducted the decennial Census, which is a constitutionally required count of the entire population of the United States. The current Census also includes questions regarding race, ethnicity, and gender (or sex?) to help the federal government monitor compliance with anti-discrimination and pro-civil liberties policies. The 2020 Census will ultimately impact federal and state funding for public services alongside information for legislative representation. As our communities evolve, the Census allows us to determine the needs of an ever ethnically diversifying national population.

Following the administration of the Census, state legislatures (and in fourteen states, independent commissions) begin redrawing lines of electoral districts for local, state, and congressional seats. This process, otherwise known as redistricting, is based on demographic information and population count provided by the Census. Fair redistricting plans ensure that every community has a voice in their governing bodies, as representatives should reflect the demographic composition and heterogeneity of their districts. But in some states where one political party maintains a strong majority, legislators often manipulate district lines to protect their own seats and benefit the party in power; this is called gerrymandering.



The sole purpose of gerrymandering is to diminish the political power of minority groups and amplify the voice of the majority. The two primary tactics used to gerrymander districts are “packing” and “cracking.” Packing occurs when a redistricting plan concentrates a political minority into a small number of districts, so they are ultimately outnumbered in the legislature. Cracking spreads minority communities across too many districts, so they are proportionally outnumbered in every apportioned district. 

Gerrymandering is a bipartisan, and fundamentally democratic, issue as it fails to represent all of the voices of voters in our state. Now, more than ever, it’s critical to regulate the process of redistricting to ensure that gerrymandering doesn’t corrupt the political process and ensure that all of our elections are free and fair.