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Understanding politics and gerrymandering

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There is a lot I don’t understand about politics. I am sure there are lots of people who would be happy to mansplain it all to me, but I suspect those explanations would be just as partisan as everything else and of very little help. Probably, some questions don’t have any answers, but I do try to sort out as much as I can.

At the moment, I am trying to get my head around the logic (or illogic) of voting districts. Here in North Carolina, with all the publicity about court decisions, gerrymandering, and frantic committee meetings to further tweak the map, we voters have cause to be concerned. After all, we want to be sure our one small vote makes as much of an impact as possible.

Out of curiosity, I checked out voting district maps in some other states. Most of them looked more orderly than ours. I must admit that our state’s newly drawn map is a big improvement over the old map that had a couple of districts that slithered across the state like long tailed skinks. However, it is still quite free-flowing.

I can’t help but wonder why someone doesn’t just take a ruler and draw squares (or as close to squares as the irregular shape of the state would allow) that would divide us into the proper number of districts instead of letting the legislators pick and choose which voters will go where. Well, actually, I know why — it’s called gerrymandering, but who decided that was a good idea anyway?

Sure, if we were divided into square districts of nearly equal size, voters in less populated districts might have more individual impact on the selection of their representatives than voters in densely populated districts, but why is that worse than intentionally placing some voters in districts where they know they will be outnumbered before the votes are even cast?

But I guess that’s not so different from the Electoral College that overrides one man/one vote. I don’t understand that either.

Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.

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