Overheard on CNN.com: Gerrymandering in American politics
An 1812 cartoon described as a "Gerrymander" lampoons a legislative district drawn by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.
November 18th, 2011
12:57 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Gerrymandering in American politics

Editor's note: Readers have a lot to say about stories, and we're listening. Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"Even if your vote counts, it comes down to which corrupt one do you want in office. Politics has become so dirty that there is no way the people can win. "
–TerryH13

CNN is taking a look at the redistricting process, which takes place every 10 years after each census is complete. In the last 10 years, 78% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives did not change party hands even once.

David Wasserman, redistricting expert for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says that through redistricting elections can be "almost rigged" in a sense and this can lead to a more polarized Congress. Readers responded to this story by expressing a degree of cynicism about the political process on both sides of the aisle. Some even questioned whether they should vote at all.

Why your vote for Congress might not matter

Commenters largely said politicians are influenced too much by money.

"Republican or Democrat? The candidates we get to choose from at election time are all rich, hand picked and sponsored by special interest and or corporate America," said str8Vision. "Like race-car drivers, politicians should wear uniforms adorned with logos and patches of the corporations, special interest groups and lobbyist who sponsor them."

FrankinSD replied, "What makes you think changing the faces will change the system?" He also said in a different post, "The creation of safe districts does more than just diminish the power of individual voters. It removes the incentive for the parties to nominate someone in the political center. If a seat is safely Democratic or Republican, there is no penalty for nominating an extremist."

BilyGoatGruf wrote, "I live in one of the most gerrymandered districts in the U.S.! it sucks cause I'm the minority party. My area does have quite a few people like me, but we're just used to bridge two strongholds for the opposing party. But I still vote!"

Others said they didn't feel like they want to vote. "I know I am back to feeling disenfranchised again and this article will support my new decision not to vote," said, ComeOnMan9. "Our election process is broken and money seems to be at the core of all decisions made."

glorydays responded, "Then the plutocrats have won. They want you to stay home."

vixis said:

"This is why I don't vote. It's a waste of time. Candidates win by the most money they have or who pads their pockets, at one time voting meant something but not anymore. No one cares what the taxpayers think, this is why I say we need to stop paying taxes. This will be the only way they will listen, money talks ... right!"

Some commenters wanted to stress that voting is important. bzzarr said:

"How could any American come to the conclusion that he/she wasn't going to vote? After all this country has been through, and all it has accomplished in less than 250 years. How can you just give up, shake your head, and walk away? We have out-done countries that have existed for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years longer, in a matter of those 240 years. We owe it to our forefathers, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children, and most of all we owe it to our nation. We must continue to fight to make this country stronger. Its the people who have made this country what it is not the politicians.

What's your take? Join the conversation below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or, sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Congress • Elections • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. PSU ALUMNI

    You are acting like Gerry is some kind of bad guy. I personally know Gerry Mander and he is ok. I think he went to college with me at PSU in Texas.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    *Sigh* ^ ^ ^

    November 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Astarte

    How are you today banasy?

    November 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WOT

    Gerrymandering – to give one party an unfair advantage in elections. That is nothing new in US politics, along with all the other wrongs with a republic (one person represent many): however mostly for their own good (money, under the table)!

    November 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Deshondra

    I didnt know his first name is Gerry. But my mom said Manders is a mormon name. I wonder if he knows Mit Rumney ?

    November 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOND, JAMES

    Until money is removed from political campaigns, its only going to get worse

    November 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOND, JAMES

    How do you keep the faith, hope, for a real political change? the system is broke, but those that can change are the ones benefitng from the unbridaled corruption, its everyday, everyehere.. i truly fear the future, as the evil greed that causes daily hardships is getting bolder, and stronger everyday, with noo relief in sight, god help us all.hi banasy

    November 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOND, JAMES

    The politicians speak to the masses, promise change, hope, deliverence from the evils of power and greed. do you really believe? they lie, and theese forces that control our society are truly disallusioned, for they commit unspeakable acts, and are rewarded well, and all the while regarding you, the poor and ill, as the real problems. they dont even realize they are the ones who need help, god help them

    November 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. saywhat

    @ Bond,James

    Rightly said.
    The system needs overhauling. Elections now are all about big money & lobbies.
    The young of this country are our only hope. Are they awakening, is the OWS movement a beginning?

    November 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    Hi, Asarte.
    Hi, BOND, JAMES.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    @BOND, JAMES:
    You've got a good perspective...now let's all use our right to vote, because even if it means maintaining our status quo, we'll have at least the knowledge that we're trying to change it.
    Sitting at home on voting day just gives tacit approval that the status quo is what we want.

    @saywhat:
    Yes, it's the beginning.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CNN's Nicole Saidi

    Thanks all for your comments. I'm curious what ideas people have for making the political process work better here in the U.S. and everywhere. It's kind of a big (huge) and very loaded question, but an extremely important one.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Seth A Drekin

    This is a problem that can be easily solved by reversing our voting process(Congressional Election Only). Currently, we vote first for which Democrat is the best Democrat and which Republican is the best Republican. Then, we pit the two of them against each other plus the occasional Independent. However, this final vote is futile due to the districting problem. 90% of the time seat are already granted to a given party.

    If however, we reverse the process, vote in general for Democrats, Republicans or Independents for each seat, then the process becomes on the merits of the candidate and not the party. If Republicans win a district, each Republican Candidate would have to run against one another for the seat and win based on their merits. This would allow for Democrats and Independents, who would otherwise have lost there Vote in a predetermined Republican district, to then vote for a Republican who leans more representatively toward the values of the district as a whole. The process would work in the same for any district that is dominantly Democrat or Independent.

    In the end, voting for Party first, then Candidate would cut down on extremism in politics by forcing both parties to consider the minority vote. A politician who may only get 33% of his own parties vote could get 80% of the other parties vote if the minority party was already out of the race. Politics would end up with a lot more John Huntmans and a lot few Michelle Bachmanns.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shane

    Has the peoples vote ever really mattered?

    November 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    In the Presidential vote, get rid of the Electoral College.
    It is an archaic practice, and the popular vote is the only one that should matter.
    The people, not the Electoral College, should prevail in the Presidential race...

    November 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
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