In Mission Two you experience the classic abuse of the redistricting system: a partisan gerrymander. The word "gerrymander" comes from a famous case of redistricting in Massachusetts in 1812. The governor at the time, Elbridge Gerry, signed a map into law that included a district shaped like a salamander. Critics dubbed the new oddly-shaped district the "gerrymander". A partisan gerrymander is quite possibly one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it is a surprisingly common one.
Even if the district's shape does not look as bizarre as the first gerrymander, its population can still be engineered to elect a specific kind of politician. With the advent of computer technology merged with past election returns, mapmakers can reliably predict the future voting behavior of any potential constituency. That manipulation of the process can undermine the very spirit of a fair, democratic election. Nevertheless, gerrymandering remains a staple of partisan conflict between parties, and unscrupulous mapmakers continue to use it despite the harm it does to fair representation.
The essence of a partisan gerrymander is manipulating district lines around a set of voters that will elect your party's candidate. The two principle tactics used in gerrymandering are "cracking" and "packing."
Spreading like-minded voters apart across multiple districts to dilute their voting power in each. This denies the group representation in multiple districts.
Concentrating like-minded voters together in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts. This gives the group representation in a single district while denying them representation across districts.
In both of these tactics mapmakers typically draw peculiarly shaped districts to capture the desired results.
Case Study - Mission 2
A Partisan Gerrymander: Pennsylvania in 2000. After the 2000 Census, the status quo in Pennsylvania was disrupted, and the state's politicians became embroiled in a struggle over the issue of congressional redistricting. Republicans were concerned that their districts had become unduly competitive, and they began a campaign to redraw the boundaries in a way that favored their party. Democrats attempted to block the GOP's efforts procedurally, but the Republican plan was ultimately enacted with only minor changes.
Gerrymandering on Wikipedia
The Gerrymander That Ate America
The Race to Gerrymander