These maps show how Republicans openly rig elections

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This is the founding concept of American democracy: voters choose the politicians they want to represent them.

Yet the reality in 2021 is much more depressing. As politicians embark on the decade-long process of redesigning political constituencies across the country, they are essentially rigging the system by deciding among themselves exactly which voters in which regions they want to represent. It is a process called gerrymandering which allows them to virtually choose their voters and guarantee their re-election.

The United States is almost the only one that allows partisan politicians to design political constituencies in this way. It is an invisible scalpel that profoundly affects American politics but also the tenor and character of national discourse.

Republicans have control of the process in many states this year. And so far, they are maximizing their advantage wherever they can. The new lines will likely help Republicans regain control of the US House next year.

Let us show you how Republicans gerrymandering in four major regions of the country.

Dismantle a democratic neighborhood

In North Carolina, Republicans have drawn a new congressional map that gives them a lock on at least 10 of the state’s 14 congressional seats. That’s a huge advantage in a state that re-elected a Democratic governor in 2020 and where Joe Biden won 48.6% of the statewide vote.

Remarkably enough, there is nothing federal courts can do to stop this kind of extreme partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court ruled in 2019.

There are few limits on the process. Each neighborhood should have roughly the same number of people. In many places, they need to be reasonably compact. And lawmakers cannot dilute the influence of voters based on their race.

But politicians are free to group voters according to their partisan leanings. And over the past few decades, they’ve done it surgically, butchering communities to essentially retain benefits for years to come. A decade ago, Republicans launched a hugely successful effort, called Project REDMAP, to take control of state legislatures, then used their new majorities to draw cards that locked their advantage for a decade. This year, Republicans have the power to draw the lines of 187 Congressional constituencies while Democrats have power in 75, according to the Cook Political Report.

In the 2012, 2014 and 2016 midterm elections, gerrymandering moved 59 seats in Congress, 39 for Republicans and 20 for Democrats, according to a report from the left-wing Center for American Progress.

While Democrats have the power to gerrymandering in far fewer places this year, they’ve also shown their willingness to use their scalpels where they have control in places like Illinois and Oregon.

Diluting the influence of black voters

While it is illegal to carve out ridings that weaken the influence of voters based on their race, sometimes lawmakers do it anyway.

Weakening of diversified and democratic suburbs

In Texas, Republicans have drawn lines that blunt the immense growth of the Democratic-leaning Hispanic population to strengthen the GOP’s grip on up to 25 of the state’s 38 congressional seats.

Even though people of color accounted for 95% of the population growth over the past decade, there are no neighborhoods where minorities make up the majority of the population.

Until 2013, states with a history of electoral discrimination, including Texas, had to have their cards pre-approved by the federal government before they went into effect to ensure they did not discriminate against them. minority voters. Now Texas has a lot more leeway to adopt cards that discriminate against people of color.

Wrap Democrats in Non-Competitive Districts

The Dallas-Fort Worth area of ​​Texas is one of the fastest growing and politically competitive areas in the state. Because each district must have roughly the same number of people by law, Republicans in Texas had to be creative in how they grouped voters.

In some places, they took small shards of heavily populated Democratic suburbs and tied them to rural GOP areas. In other cases, they excised Democrats from politically competitive districts and lumped them into districts that already favored Democrats.

Voting rights advocates face an uphill battle to challenge these cards in court. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court said there is nothing federal courts can do to stop partisan gerrymandering.

Redistribution litigation often takes years to make its way to court, allowing lawmakers to have at least one election, and often many more, conducted according to constituencies that may later be overturned.

In the meantime, the effects are insidious. When politicians know their seat is secure, they no longer have to worry about competing against the opposing party or worrying about reaching out to voters on the other party.

Instead, they become more interested in appealing to their own base and fending off challengers within their own party. This makes politics more extreme and contributes to extreme polarization.

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