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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Redistricting: The 10-year shake up

2011 December 07

By Chris Copsey, Legislative Research Director 

This last year has seen its fair share of controversial issues come up for discussion including unemployment, immigration, and health care, but there is one issue that only pops up every decade with noticeable consequences, and that issue is redistricting.

Redistricting defined is the redrawing of representational districts for the states. To break it down even further, every 10 years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the United States Census is taken. Once everyone has been counted, the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives informs each state how many representatives to Congress they will have. If the population of that state increased in the last 10 years, then they may receive additional representatives. If the population went down, however, they could lose representatives. If there is any change in the amount of representatives that a state has, the state’s legislature will redraw the Congressional districts, thus the term redistricting. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Wrong.

That’s all well and good, but there have been problems. Most notably, is what is called a Gerrymander, or a district that has been purposely manipulated in order to favor the candidate of one particular political party. The phrase is named after Eldbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. When he was running for governor, the Massachusetts legislature redrew the districts to favor the Democratic-Republicans, Gerry’s political party. What that means, is that the political ideology of a majority of the people in the district were drastically slanted towards one party, therefore making ...

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2011 November 30

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Response from major parties following 'SuperCommittee' failure

2011 November 29

The inability of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or 'Supercommittee', to come to an agreement to reduce the United States' government debt by over one trillion dollars has prompted a significant response by both Democrats and Republicans. 

Immigration: What are the presidential candidates saying?

2011 November 28

Research intern Julie Bissinger takes a closer look at what the 2012 presidential candidates have said recently on the issue of immigration.

'Supercommittee' misses deadline

2011 November 22

The U.S. Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was established with the goal of improving both the short and long term financial outlook of the US and reducing the deficit “ at least $1,500,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021” But they missed their deadline...

Help us expand our legislative research

2011 November 21

Our Legislative Research Department’s primary responsibility of tracking legislation at the state and federal levels has been so well-received that we are thinking about expanding to other areas that might be useful to voters, but we need your input.

Why I volunteer

2011 November 17

Voters aren’t stupid; they know that political ads are emotionally deceptive, and they hunger for real facts. Project Vote Smart can help. Why do I volunteer here? Because it matters.

Health care: What are the candidates saying?

2011 November 14

Research intern Julie Bissinger takes a closer look at what the 2012 presidential candidates have said recently on the issue of health care.

Find your Political Soulmate with VoteEasy

2011 November 04

With the presidential election exactly one year away, Project Vote Smart has launched VoteEasy (winner of the best there is at the 2011 Webvisionary Awards), the interactive tool for voters to instantly see which presidential candidate they are most compatible with. To use VoteEasy now visit

"Guess where your check went?"

2011 October 19 - Carly Griffin

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