October 1, 2016

District lines likely subject to gerrymandering

Stacking the deck isn’t a new concept when it comes to politics, and drawing the boundary lines in a state is one of the ways it is done.

Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one party or class. The boundaries are typically drawn up in a way to give an advantage to a political party, effectively making voters in certain areas stronger than other ones.

“[Political parties] try to look at it in a way that justifies it,” said former Missouri Governor Bob Holden. “But the bottom line is in what way we can draw those boundary lines that will give our party the best chance of winning the next election and for the next 10 years,”

Gerrymandering has always been around, according to Holden. In fact, he and many of his constituents have all agreed that approaching it in a more apolitical way would likely make drawing the lines a lot fairer to all voters.

“One party is always going to try to figure out how to do a more effective drawing of maps for the benefit of their party than for the benefit of that area,” Holden said.

Holden was in charge of drawing up the boundary lines for Missouri during his 2001-2005 term in office. The boundary lines remained in place for 10 years, but have since been replaced by those created by Governor Jay Nixon’s appointed committee.

“A committee is appointed by the governor in each congressional district and they get together, both parties represented, and they are the ones who try to come to a consensus on the boundary lines,” Holden said.

Holden said gerrymandering would certainly play a role in the upcoming state elections because that is what the craftsmanship of boundary lines is intended to do.

“I think it’s important for young people to understand the causes. Hopefully we’ll work to try to come up with ideas and ways to make changes in it and improve the representation of all people in the region,” Holden said.

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