On Nov. 8, 2016, the world watched in anticipation as votes were counted for the 2016 presidential election. The winner is revealed, and it’s not who you may expect. It’s not the winner of the most votes, as many people would believe, but the winner of the most electoral votes. On Nov. 9, 2016, Donald Trump emerged victorious from the culmination of a bitter presidential rivalry with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, despite having 2.87 million less popular votes than his opponent. This isn’t the first time such a seemingly twisted outcome has arisen from the convoluted electoral system of voting, and unless voters are willing to speak out against it, it certainly won’t be the last.
Behind the enigma of the electoral college lays the root of the problem — gerrymandering. The term gerrymandering was coined in response to Governor Elbridge Gerry’s redrawing of the electoral districts in 1812 and describes what today is known as the manipulation of a district’s border in favor of a certain political party. According to federal regulations, each district must include an equal number of people as other districts in the state, allowing for an equal distribution of voting power among the people, but because of gerrymandering manipulating districts has the opposite effect.
The political party in control is tasked with redrawing districts, allowing them to employ devious tactics to maximize their number of votes in the electoral college and minimize the impact of the minority party. Especially in today’s political culture of hyper-partisanship, this amount of power in the hands of self-interested political parties is a danger to the very fabrics of democracy. The tactics of racial and partisan gerrymandering endanger the will of the people and take the power of the vote from a state’s constituents.
Many efforts have been made to remedy this grievance, including some states voting for independent redistricting commissions to take control of the process, but we still have a long way to go. Voting power should lie with the people and be protected against the power grabs, which are all too common in modern politics. By establishing independent, nonpartisan commissions and demographers to redraw district lines, the unfairness of the voting system could be alleviated. The Constitution says “We, the People” not “We, the Politicians,” so it’s time we speak out against this overstep of political power.