How does gerrymandering harm our democracy?
Political and racial gerrymandering distorts and undermines representative democracy. It allows officials to choose their voters rather than voters choosing who represents them. Especially when done for purposes of racial discrimination and/or to ensure the dominance of one political party, gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all.
Gerrymandering inflicts its damage on our democratic system both directly and indirectly:
- Districts become “safe” for the favored party, so those in power stay in power
- The party in control gets more seats than it earned, undermining the very basis of representative democracy and impeding the alternation of power that is essential for true democracy
- Representatives of the party out of control are also protected, so many more races are uncompetitive – voters have less choice
- The primaries become the real race, leading to effective exclusion of many voters and more extreme candidates over time (because primary voters are more ideological)
- The lack of moderate winners reduces the “moderate middle” and makes cooperation between parties more difficult, leading to hyper-partisanship
- Politicians are not answerable to voters, leading to increased potential for abuse of power by both members and the leadership
- More voters lose interest in elections, since few races are competitive and the same party always wins