ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Delimitation, Demography and Democracy


Those who have followed election news from the United States (US) would be familiar with the term “gerrymandering.” It refers to the practice of redrawing the boundaries of electoral districts (or constituencies) to suit any one political party. The origins of the word go back to the early 19th century, to Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, suggesting that the practice is perhaps as old as modern American democracy itself. It stems from the perverse incentives created when the power to determine boundaries of a constituency are given to the same body or person who seeks election.

Two judgments in the last year have focused the spotlight on the issue once again, as redistricting by the legislatures in the states of Pennsylvania1 and North Carolina2 were struck down by courts in the respective states. The US Supreme Court has not yet conclusively ruled that gerrymandering along partisan lines would be unconstitutional in the US, and both these cases are likely to be decided in the Supreme Court eventually. As it stands, a stay against the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court’s order was unsuccessful (Liptak 2018), though the order of the federal appeals court has not yet been challenged.

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Updated On : 16th Feb, 2018


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