Gerrymandering is a 2010 documentary feature film written and directed by Jeff Reichert. The film explores the history and the ethical, moral and racial problems raised by redistricting, i.e., the drawing of boundaries of electoral districts in the United States.
Gerrymandering covers the history of the redistricting practice, how it is used and abused, how it benefits the two major political parties, Democrats and Republicans. The documentary draws on the perspectives from different individuals, reporters, pundits and politicians including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Howard Dean, Bob Graham, Lani Guiner, Ed Rollins, John Fund and Susan Lerner, and an array of lesser-known personalities.
The etymology of the word gerrymandering dates back to a redrawing of Massachusetts' state Senate election districts in 1812. It was named after the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, who signed a bill redistricting the state to his own advantage. One district was described as having the shape of a salamander; hence the term gerrymandering.
Jeff Reichert uses the successful campaign for California’s Proposition 11, which was designed to take redistricting power away from the state legislature and give it to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, as a through-line for the film. The film also uses several historical examples of gerrymandering, including New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries district being redrawn by the incumbent so that he could not wage an electoral challenge as he was no longer a resident.
The documentary also explores the events of the 2003 Texas redistricting, when Representative Tom DeLay and Gov. Rick Perry, both Republicans, sought to redraw the map of the state’s Congressional districts to favor Republicans. As they lacked the votes to stop the legislation, 52 Democrats from the House of Representatives fled to Oklahoma to prevent a quorum. However, when they returned, Mr. DeLay ultimately got the legislation needed to redraw the districts passed.
Gerrymandering draws on the perspectives from different individuals, reporters, pundits and politicians including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Howard Dean, Bob Graham, Lani Guiner, Ed Rollins, John Fund, Gerald Hebert and Susan Lerner, and an array of lesser-known personalities.
The A.V. Club gave Gerrymandering a C - and Entertainment Weekly gave the documentary a B+. Based on 9 (7 mixed and 2 positive) critic reviews Metacritic gave Gerrymandering a score of 49 out of 100. The Tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes shows that 40% of its approved critics gave the film a positive review with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10.