Up until now, 2017-06-20, gerrymandering is a practice that has yielded too many undesirable outcomes. But it's not well understood by many people.

It's easy to demonstrate how this works.

Start with a dozen eggs. Mark eight with orange paint. Mark four with purple paint.

The orange eggs outnumber purple eggs, 2 to 1. So you'd reasonably expect that, in general votes, orange eggs will win the elections.

We will be putting eggs into groups of four, for a total of three districts.

Each district gets one representative vote, based on how many eggs of each color are in it. A tie always goes towards purple.

Naturally, you'd probably expect to see this breakdown of the districts:

  • District 1: 3 orange, 1 purple = 1 orange vote
  • District 2: 3 orange, 1 purple = 1 orange vote
  • District 3: 2 orange, 2 purple = 1 purple vote

With this group, two districts vote orange. Even though the tie in the 3rd district goes to purple, their one vote is outvoted by the other two districts' votes.

The purple painted eggs want to win, but how can they? They are vastly outnumbered by orange eggs.

Here's how they win. They regroup the eggs.

  • District 1: 4 orange, 0 purple = 1 orange vote
  • District 2: 2 orange, 2 purple = 1 purple vote
  • District 3: 2 orange, 2 purple = 1 purple vote

With this grouping, District 1 votes orange, but 2 and 3 vote purple. 1/3 of the eggs get to decide the vote for all 12 eggs.

And this is perfectly legal. Because states can draw their own districts however they want.

And it FEELS like everyone got a fair vote. Except that the orange eggs suspect that they might be outnumbering the purple eggs, and that something feels wrong about the outcome.

BOTH SIDES DO THIS. Democrats AND Republicans are guilty of gerrymandering for political gain.