09 Jul Redistricting Is About Power
When our districts look like our communities, our political power matches our people power. Speaking up about how district lines are drawn is critical to ensuring that we keep our communities whole, to the extent possible, and grouped with nearby neighborhoods that share similar interests. We risk having our communities’ voting power stripped away if the district lines are drawn in ways that decrease our ability to elect the candidates who will fight for our issues like the quality of education our children receive, justice reform, or equity in funding and community investment. If we are serious about ending systemic racism and inequities or advancing the issues we most care about, then we must be engaged in the redistricting process.
How can districts be drawn to disempower our communities? (Source: Dolores Huerta Foundation)
One way politicians try to protect their power and keep marginalized people from having a fair chance to elect candidates representing them is gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The primary goals of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters’ votes and minimize opponents’ votes. When this happens, our communities’ political voice and representation are diminished. With it, our collective chances to elect candidates of choice or advance policies that would genuinely improve the quality of our everyday lives increase.
Methods of Gerrymandering:
Packing: Compacting a minority group’s population into one district to give it more representation than is needed to create a majority in that district while reducing its presence and electoral influence in surrounding communities.
Cracking: Splitting a like-minded voting group’s electoral strength by dividing its population into multiple districts.
Racial gerrymandering uses district lines to harm a racial minority group and dilute the power of their vote. But, not all consideration of race and ethnicity is bad when maps are being drawn. It is often vital and helpful to consider race and ethnicity and other factors that might bring communities together and foster equity in representation.
Redistricting is about power, and thankfully California and Los Angeles have put that power in the hands of the people. Your input is valuable in shaping the new political boundaries of our communities. The redrawing of voting district maps is currently underway in LA County and California. BIPOC communities must help shape the district lines that will elect officials and direct resources. To get involved in the process, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit The People’s Bloc.