full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Christina Greer: Gerrymandering How drawing jagged lines can impact an election

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Most ppeole have heard the word "gerrymandering" once or twice, probably during a presidential election. What exactly is gerrymandering? Essentially, it's the process of giving one political party an advantage over another political party by redrawing district lines. It's like Democrats trying to gain an advantage over Republicans, or Republicans trying to gain an advantage over Democrats. You see, each party wants to gain as many districts as possible so they can do things like control the sttae budget, or set themselves up to win even more districts in the future. So to understand how this process began, and how it continues today, we must go back to 1812 in Massachusetts. ebgrldie Gerry, the governor of mthstceaussas, supported and sgenid a bill to allow redistricting. That is, rdrwaeing the boundaries that separate districts. The catch? The new leins would favor Gerry's own ptiilacol party, the Democratic-Republican party, which no longer exists. You see, Gerry wanted his party to win as many state Senate seats as possible. The more members of your party who vote, the more likely you are to win an election. The new lines were drawn to include loads of areas that would help Governor Gerry in the future. They were so strange looking that someone said the new dirsttics looked like a slaamnaedr. The Boston Gazette added Gerry's name to the word salamander, and voilà! Gerrymandering, the process of dividing up and redrawing districts to give your political party an advantage. So how exactly does someone go about protecting their own political party, and actually gerrymandering a district? There are two successful practices. Packing a district, and cracking a district. Packing is the process of drawing district lines and pkanicg in your opponents like cattle, into as few districts as possible. If more districts eqlaus more votes, the fewer the districts there are, the fewer votes the opposition party will get. Packing, then, decreases the opponent's vtoer strength and influence. Cracking is the opposite: taking one district and cracking it into several peeics. This is usually done in districts where your opponent has many supporters. Cracking spreads these supporters out among many districts, denying your opponent a lot of votes. When you have a lgrae nmebur of people who would generally vote for one type of party, those floks are known as a vntoig bloc. Cracking is a way to break that all up. So when would a party cohsoe to pack their opponent's districts rather than crcak them? Well, that really depends on what the party needs. To dilute your opponent's voters, you could pack them into one district and leave the sdnurnuriog districts filled with voters of your own party. Or, if you and your party are in power when it's time to redraw district lines, you could redraw districts and crack up a powerful district and srpaed your opponent's voters out across several neighboring districts. So, Governor Gerry in 1812 wanted to gain an advantage for his party, and redrew drcistit lines in his state in such a crazy way we have a whole new word and way of thinking about how political parties can gain advantages over their opponents. plaiioicnts think of cavterie ways to draw districts every few years. So the next time an election comes around, and politicians ask people to vote, be sure to look up the sahpe of your district and the districts that snroruud it. How wide does your district stretch across your state? Are all of the districts in your state relatively the same shape? How many other districts does your district touch? But always be sure to ask yourself, does my district look like a salamander?

Open Cloze

Most ______ have heard the word "gerrymandering" once or twice, probably during a presidential election. What exactly is gerrymandering? Essentially, it's the process of giving one political party an advantage over another political party by redrawing district lines. It's like Democrats trying to gain an advantage over Republicans, or Republicans trying to gain an advantage over Democrats. You see, each party wants to gain as many districts as possible so they can do things like control the _____ budget, or set themselves up to win even more districts in the future. So to understand how this process began, and how it continues today, we must go back to 1812 in Massachusetts. ________ Gerry, the governor of _____________, supported and ______ a bill to allow redistricting. That is, _________ the boundaries that separate districts. The catch? The new _____ would favor Gerry's own _________ party, the Democratic-Republican party, which no longer exists. You see, Gerry wanted his party to win as many state Senate seats as possible. The more members of your party who vote, the more likely you are to win an election. The new lines were drawn to include loads of areas that would help Governor Gerry in the future. They were so strange looking that someone said the new _________ looked like a __________. The Boston Gazette added Gerry's name to the word salamander, and voilà! Gerrymandering, the process of dividing up and redrawing districts to give your political party an advantage. So how exactly does someone go about protecting their own political party, and actually gerrymandering a district? There are two successful practices. Packing a district, and cracking a district. Packing is the process of drawing district lines and _______ in your opponents like cattle, into as few districts as possible. If more districts ______ more votes, the fewer the districts there are, the fewer votes the opposition party will get. Packing, then, decreases the opponent's _____ strength and influence. Cracking is the opposite: taking one district and cracking it into several ______. This is usually done in districts where your opponent has many supporters. Cracking spreads these supporters out among many districts, denying your opponent a lot of votes. When you have a _____ ______ of people who would generally vote for one type of party, those _____ are known as a ______ bloc. Cracking is a way to break that all up. So when would a party ______ to pack their opponent's districts rather than _____ them? Well, that really depends on what the party needs. To dilute your opponent's voters, you could pack them into one district and leave the ___________ districts filled with voters of your own party. Or, if you and your party are in power when it's time to redraw district lines, you could redraw districts and crack up a powerful district and ______ your opponent's voters out across several neighboring districts. So, Governor Gerry in 1812 wanted to gain an advantage for his party, and redrew ________ lines in his state in such a crazy way we have a whole new word and way of thinking about how political parties can gain advantages over their opponents. ___________ think of ________ ways to draw districts every few years. So the next time an election comes around, and politicians ask people to vote, be sure to look up the _____ of your district and the districts that ________ it. How wide does your district stretch across your state? Are all of the districts in your state relatively the same shape? How many other districts does your district touch? But always be sure to ask yourself, does my district look like a salamander?

Solution

  1. redrawing
  2. surround
  3. people
  4. crack
  5. district
  6. folks
  7. voting
  8. surrounding
  9. spread
  10. shape
  11. elbridge
  12. politicians
  13. pieces
  14. packing
  15. state
  16. equals
  17. massachusetts
  18. districts
  19. creative
  20. political
  21. choose
  22. number
  23. signed
  24. voter
  25. lines
  26. salamander
  27. large

Original Text

Most people have heard the word "gerrymandering" once or twice, probably during a presidential election. What exactly is gerrymandering? Essentially, it's the process of giving one political party an advantage over another political party by redrawing district lines. It's like Democrats trying to gain an advantage over Republicans, or Republicans trying to gain an advantage over Democrats. You see, each party wants to gain as many districts as possible so they can do things like control the state budget, or set themselves up to win even more districts in the future. So to understand how this process began, and how it continues today, we must go back to 1812 in Massachusetts. Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, supported and signed a bill to allow redistricting. That is, redrawing the boundaries that separate districts. The catch? The new lines would favor Gerry's own political party, the Democratic-Republican party, which no longer exists. You see, Gerry wanted his party to win as many state Senate seats as possible. The more members of your party who vote, the more likely you are to win an election. The new lines were drawn to include loads of areas that would help Governor Gerry in the future. They were so strange looking that someone said the new districts looked like a salamander. The Boston Gazette added Gerry's name to the word salamander, and voilà! Gerrymandering, the process of dividing up and redrawing districts to give your political party an advantage. So how exactly does someone go about protecting their own political party, and actually gerrymandering a district? There are two successful practices. Packing a district, and cracking a district. Packing is the process of drawing district lines and packing in your opponents like cattle, into as few districts as possible. If more districts equals more votes, the fewer the districts there are, the fewer votes the opposition party will get. Packing, then, decreases the opponent's voter strength and influence. Cracking is the opposite: taking one district and cracking it into several pieces. This is usually done in districts where your opponent has many supporters. Cracking spreads these supporters out among many districts, denying your opponent a lot of votes. When you have a large number of people who would generally vote for one type of party, those folks are known as a voting bloc. Cracking is a way to break that all up. So when would a party choose to pack their opponent's districts rather than crack them? Well, that really depends on what the party needs. To dilute your opponent's voters, you could pack them into one district and leave the surrounding districts filled with voters of your own party. Or, if you and your party are in power when it's time to redraw district lines, you could redraw districts and crack up a powerful district and spread your opponent's voters out across several neighboring districts. So, Governor Gerry in 1812 wanted to gain an advantage for his party, and redrew district lines in his state in such a crazy way we have a whole new word and way of thinking about how political parties can gain advantages over their opponents. Politicians think of creative ways to draw districts every few years. So the next time an election comes around, and politicians ask people to vote, be sure to look up the shape of your district and the districts that surround it. How wide does your district stretch across your state? Are all of the districts in your state relatively the same shape? How many other districts does your district touch? But always be sure to ask yourself, does my district look like a salamander?

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
political party 3
district lines 3
governor gerry 2

Important Words

  1. added
  2. advantage
  3. advantages
  4. areas
  5. began
  6. bill
  7. bloc
  8. boston
  9. boundaries
  10. break
  11. budget
  12. catch
  13. cattle
  14. choose
  15. continues
  16. control
  17. crack
  18. cracking
  19. crazy
  20. creative
  21. decreases
  22. democrats
  23. denying
  24. depends
  25. dilute
  26. district
  27. districts
  28. dividing
  29. draw
  30. drawing
  31. drawn
  32. elbridge
  33. election
  34. equals
  35. essentially
  36. exists
  37. favor
  38. filled
  39. folks
  40. future
  41. gain
  42. gazette
  43. generally
  44. gerry
  45. gerrymandering
  46. give
  47. giving
  48. governor
  49. heard
  50. include
  51. influence
  52. large
  53. leave
  54. lines
  55. loads
  56. longer
  57. looked
  58. lot
  59. massachusetts
  60. members
  61. neighboring
  62. number
  63. opponent
  64. opponents
  65. opposition
  66. pack
  67. packing
  68. parties
  69. party
  70. people
  71. pieces
  72. political
  73. politicians
  74. power
  75. powerful
  76. practices
  77. presidential
  78. process
  79. protecting
  80. redistricting
  81. redraw
  82. redrawing
  83. redrew
  84. republicans
  85. salamander
  86. seats
  87. senate
  88. separate
  89. set
  90. shape
  91. signed
  92. spread
  93. spreads
  94. state
  95. strange
  96. strength
  97. stretch
  98. successful
  99. supported
  100. supporters
  101. surround
  102. surrounding
  103. thinking
  104. time
  105. today
  106. touch
  107. type
  108. understand
  109. vote
  110. voter
  111. voters
  112. votes
  113. voting
  114. wanted
  115. ways
  116. wide
  117. win
  118. word
  119. years