gerrymander(jer'ēmăn"dur, ger–) [key], in politics,
rearrangement of voting districts so as to favor the party in power. The
objective is to create as many districts as possible in areas of known support
and to concentrate the opposition's strength into as few districts as possible.
Extremely irregular boundary lines are sometimes necessary to obtain the results
desired. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has placed (1964) the vague limit of
“compact districts of contiguous territory” on such apportionment schemes. The
origin of the term, though by no means the origin of the practice, was in such
an arrangement made by the Massachusetts Jeffersonians when Elbridge Gerry was
See E. C. Griffith, The Rise and Development of the
Gerrymander (1907, repr. 1974).