Potential Electoral Impacts of Gill v. Whitford

Authors: Jesse Hardin Hufstedler*, University of Central Arkansas
Topics: Political Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Gerrymandering, Law, Political Geography
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Gerrymandering has a long history in the United States. In opposition to this practice, The Supreme Court has established two constitutional standards by which gerrymandered districts may be invalidated. These standards, the inappropriate consideration of population and race, were established under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. The first standard, known as the "One man, one vote" doctrine, is exemplified in the case Baker v. Carr (1962) while the second, inappropriate consideration of race when drawing districts, was established in the case Shaw v. Reno (1993). This historical gerrymandering, however, is vastly different than the new, technologically sophisticated, partisan gerrymandering which has been brought before the Court in the last decade. Currently, the Supreme Court is deliberating on the case Gill v. Whitford out of Wisconsin wherein sophisticated computer modeling (i.e. GIS) was used to pack and crack voters in order to engineer the desired partisan outcome. Since neither race nor geographic location were per se the motives in that case, no current constitutional standard invalidates the districts drawn. Cases of this type are becoming more common across the United States, as GIS becomes increasingly more ubiquitous and accurate. This poster will explore historical population and race based gerrymandering (including how districts were drawn before GIS modeling) as well as modern partisan gerrymandering in the hope of extrapolating potential impacts of a decision for the plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford.

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