The word gerrymander is a verb which means to devide a geographic area into voting districts in a way that gives one party an unfair advantage in elections. In 1812 Elbridge Gerry (1744 – 1814) was the governor of Massachusetts. He managed,against opposition, to pass a bill effecting the revision of voting districts in his State. Out of his home county, he carved out electoral segments in a bizaar manner. It was a manipulative political ploy to benefit his party and gain victory in the election.
The word gerrymander was coined after the two words Gerry and salamander,because one of the election districts created by Gerry resembled the body shape of salamander.
Gerrymander is a portmanteau word. The resulting district is called a gerrymander (noun). The term gerrymandering has negative connotation. The act of gerrymandering is mainly intended to diluting the voting power in one district and to reduce the strength of the opposite party in the overall electoral achievement. Indirectly, it led to concentrating the opposing party’s power in one district and consequently to reduce its chances of winning in other districts. Eventually, the tactic is expected to give electoral gain for the persons in authority . Gerry’s tactic led to formation of majority of constituents representative of African – American and other racial minorities in some districts.
The word gerrymander was used for the first time by the press in 1812. Subsequently, due to its popular use, it was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1848.