Maryland's redistricting map is now known as a 'Marymander'?
Gerrymandering — the process of creating congressional districts to benefit an incumbent or a political party — has been around for a very long time. In fact, in the United States the practice reportedly dates all the way back to 1788, preceeding by one year the first U.S. Congress.
However, gerrymandering earned its name in 1812 when then-Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill redistricting Massachusetts to the advantage of his political party. One of the re-drawn districts had the shape of a salamander, which was satirized by more than one political cartoonist. From that point forward, the term gerrymander was used to describe this obvious method of hoarding political power. Here’s a nice clip of President Ronald Reagan criticizing the practice.
Even given its long pedigree, however, what Maryland Governor O’Malley and his Democrat allies have done in Maryland to benefit Democrat incumbents might be without precedent. Even the liberal Washington Post called the Governor’s redistricting map, which is now known as a Marymander, “comical” in its construction. (You can review the congressional districting map for yourself here. For fun, see if you can find any animal shapes.)
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