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SSHL Reference Display - Baffling Boundaries: the Politics of Gerrymandering
Reapportionment—also known as “redistricting” or negatively as “gerrymandering”--has a long and storied history in US political history. Redistricting occurs at the federal, state, and local levels every ten years on the basis of the decennial population census. The basis for this process is the concept of “one-person, one-vote” framed in the US Constitution and further enhanced by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its extensions in 1970, 1975, and 1982. Despite its importance to the political process, redistricting draws little interest from the general public. It is, however, a procedure historically filled with political finagling and outright abuse as politicians vie to draw districts favorable to themselves and/or their political parties.

Triggered by an article on redistricting and development in San Diego County in a recent San Diego Citybeat article, James R. Jacobs, Government Information Librarian and Dan Henderson, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Coordinator, decided to look into the issue. This website is an extension of their findings that are currently being shown in the Social Science and Humanities Library Reference Area. Read on for some interesting and thought-provoking information and historical background on the topic of redistricting.


Private Parts: Redistricting lawsuit peeks under the covers
Maps of San Diego County Redistricting
Where do we get the word "Gerrymandering?"
Electronic Information on Redistricting
Selected Bibliography

Private Parts: Redistricting lawsuit peeks under the covers
By John R. Lamb
San Diego City Beat Issue 11, 10/30/2002
Where do we get the word "Gerrymandering?"

Elbridge Gerry was signer of the American Declaration of Independence and fifth vice president of the United States (1813–14) in the second term of President James Madison. From his name the term gerrymander later was derived.

Gerry was the son of Thomas Gerry, a merchant, and Elizabeth Greenleaf. He graduated from Harvard in 1762 and entered his father's business. He was a member of the Massachusetts legislature and General Court (1772–73), served on a Committee of Correspondence, was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress (1774–75), and was a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia (1776–81), where he was an early advocate of independence. He was also a member of Congress (1783–85) under the Articles of Confederation and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787). He was an outspoken opponent of ratification of the United States Constitution, fearing that it might give way to aristocratic or monarchical rule. However, he gave it his full support after its ratification, helping to draft the Bill of Rights and serving as a representative in Congress for two terms (1789–93).

In 1797 President John Adams sent Gerry, John Marshall, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to France on the mission that resulted in the XYZ Affair. The mission, an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a treaty to settle several long-standing disputes, ended early because of the duplicitous treatment of the American negotiators by the French foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, and his subordinates. After the French agents demanded bribes, Marshall and Pinckney departed in disgust; however, Gerry remained in Paris in the vain hope that Talleyrand might offer him, a known friend of France, terms that had been refused to Marshall and Pinckney. This action brought a storm of abuse and censure from Federalist partisans, from which Gerry never fully cleared himself.

After four attempts to win election as governor of Massachusetts, Gerry succeeded in 1810 and was reelected in 1811. His administration was notable for its use of what became known as gerrymandering, the division of electoral districts for partisan political advantage.

In 1812 Gerry, an ardent supporter of war with Great Britain in the War of 1812, was elected vice president of the United States on the Jeffersonian Republican ticket with Madison. In 1813, while presiding over the Senate, Gerry, who along with Madison was in ill health, refused to yield his chair at the close of the legislative session, thus preventing William Giles, a senator from Virginia and an advocate of peace with Britain, from becoming president pro tempore of the Senate and thereby second in line (after the vice president) to succeed the president under the Presidential Succession Act of 1792. Gerry suffered a hemorrhage of the lungs on his way to the Senate and died in 1814.

"Gerry, Elbridge" Encyclopædia Britannica


Electronic Information on Redistricting

San Diego
Registrar of Voters, San Diego County
Find Your Elected Representatives, Registrar of Voters, San Diego County
Redistricting Commission, City of San Diego
Year 2000 Redistricting Commission Final Report and Recommendations

Statewide Database 9 redistricting database for the state of California, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley

United States
United States Census Bureau, US Department of Commerce
Census 2000 Interactive Map

Organizations and Information of Interest
Center for Voting and Democracy
Redistricting: In Whose Interest? (Center for Voting and Democracy)
Mapping Our Future: A Public Interest Guide to Redistricting (Center for Voting and Democracy)
Redistricting Roulette (Center for Voting and Democracy
American Civil Liberties Union, Voting Rights and Redistricting Information
Selected Bibliography
Barber, Kathleen L. A Right to Representation: Proportional Election Systems For The Twenty-First Century. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2000.
JF1071 .B37 2000
Burke, Christopher M. The Appearance of Equality: Racial Gerrymandering, Redistricting, and the Supreme Court. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
KF4905 .B87 1999
Cunningham, Maurice T. Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting, and the Department of Justice. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001. KF4905 .C86 2001
Dixon, Robert G. Jr. Democratic Representation: Reapportionment in Law and Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. KF4905 .D5
Grofman, Bernard, Lisa Handley, and Richard G. Niemi. Minority Representation and the Quest for Voting Equality. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
KF4893 .G76 1992
Grofman, Bernard, ed. Political Gerrymandering and the Courts. New York: Agathon Press, 1990. KF4905 .P65 1990
Grofman, Bernard et al. eds. Representation and Redistricting Issues. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1982. KF4905.A75 R43 1982
Hardy, Leroy, Alan Heslop, and Stuart Anderson, eds. Reapportionment Politics: The History of Redistricting in the 50 States. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1981.
KF4905 .R43
Hudson, David M. Along Racial Lines: Consequences of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. New York: Peter Lang, 1998. KF4891.H83 1998
Monmonier, Mark. Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. JK1341 .M66 2001
O’Rourke, Terry B. Reapportionment: Law, Politics, Computers. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1972. KF4905 .Z9O76
Richie, Robert and Steven Hill. Reflecting All of Us: The Case For Proportional Representation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999. JF1075.U6 R55 1999
Richie, Robert and Steven Hill. Whose Vote Counts? Boston: Beacon Press, 2001.
JF1075.U6 R55 2001

Zelden, Charles L. Voting Rights on Trial: A Handbook with Cases, Laws, and Documents. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2002. KF4891 .Z45 2002

Article Databases
Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS) International
Alternative Press Index
LexisNexis Academic
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
San Diego Union Tribune (1984-1999 on CD-ROM and 2000-present online)

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