Gerrymandering – manipulating boundary lines of political districts to give an unfair advantage to one political party or to dilute the political strength of voters of a particular race, color, or national origin

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n. (1812)

1. The practice of dividing a geographical area into electoral districts, often of highly irregular shape, to give one political party an unfair advantage by diluting the opposition’s voting strength.  *  When Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry ran for reelection in 1812, members of his political party, the anti-Federalists, altered the state’s voting districts to benefit the party.  One newly created district resembled a salamander, inspiring a critic to coin the word gerrymander by combining the governor’s name, Gerry, with the ending of salamander.  Gerry was not reelected governor, but was elected as James Madison’s vice president. — aka political gerrymandering

2. The practice of dividing any geographical or jurisdictional area into political units (such as school districts) to give some group a special advantage. — aka partisan gerrymandering; jurisdictional gerrymandering.   Cf. REAPPORTIONMENT. — gerrymander, vb. [1]

A word derived from the name of Hon. Elbridge Gerry, a former governor of Massachusetts. So contriving in fixing the boundary lines of legislative districts as to give an unfair advantage to one political party. Anno: 2 ALR 1337; 25 Am J2d Elect § 18.

An unfair method adopted by a political party in control of the legislature, whereby the boundaries of election districts are altered and arranged as to prevent a majority vote in such districts in favor of the opposing political party, which, under a fair and normal apportionment, would represent a majority vote in those districts. State ex rel. Morris v Wrightson, 56 NJL 126, 28 A 56

Fixing school attendance zones in such manner as to segregate the races in the schools. 15 Am J2d Civ R § 39. [2] 

1. Manipulating the boundary lines of a political district (EXAMPLE: a congressional district) to give an unfair advantage to one political party or to dilute the political strength of voters of a particular race, color, or national origin.
     See apportionment of representatives. [3]

Various Forms of Gerrymandering:

delineational gerrymandering (1976) Gerrymandering by varying the districts’ shape,  *  There are three kinds of delineational gerrymandering: cracking (or fracturing), packing, and stacking.

  • crackingn. A gerrymandering technique in which a geographically concentrated political or racial group that is large enough to constitute a district’s dominant force is broken up by district lines and dispersed throughout two or more districts. — aka fracturing. [1]
  • packingn. A gerrymandering technique in which a dominant political or racial group minimizes minority representation by concentrating the minority into as few districts as possible.
  • stacking – A gerrymandering technique in which a large political or racial group is combined in the same district with a larger opposition group.

institutional gerrymandering (1973) Gerrymandering by means of varying the number of representatives per district.

racial gerrymandering (1961) Gerrymandering along racial lines, or with excessive regard for the racial composition of the electorate. [1]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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