- Electoral geography
Electoral Geography is defined as the geographical differences regarding a region's political trend.
Electoral geography in the United Kingdom
Today in the
United Kingdom, electoral geography is studied extensively and is normally compared to the US method of elections and regionalization. By employing UK’s methods of " class cleavage”, where the Conservative Pparty earns popularity with the white-collar class and their Labour Party earns even more notorietyPOV-statement|date=September 2008 with the UK’s working class. Comparing the UK’s method to the US method of sectionalism placing major emphasis on location; instead of basing support for a party by class, the US does so by location. Different areas of the US are more populated than others, thus giving usWho|date=September 2008 differences in population relating to the geography of each individual voting district. With different class variations in education, living status and culture, this is the US way of sampling each area evenly.
Englandto extinguish regional identity the country was divided into nine regionsFact|date=July 2008. It was thoughtFact|date=July 2008 that people who congregate together seem to vote alike, rather than being apart from others and voting on one’s own opinions. This theory has yet to be proven in any formal experiment though. Even with these nine define boundaries, the voting patterns are seemingly divided between the two parties. Researchers are forced to question what causes this regional difference in voting outcomes.
England’s voting method differs from that of the US. To produce an outcome England has many different electoral systems it usesFact|date=July 2008, “all voting takes place in the context of a particular electoral system. There as to be some agreed way of aggregating votes to produce a result. Votes indicate individuals’ preferences and in the public elections these have to be translated into seats by some formula”Citequote|date=September 2008. By constructing this formula they reach an outcome giving them numbers for seats in Parliament.
England is not alone in selecting their electoral system. “… A cross-national study found seventy different systems in twenty-seven democracies.”Citequote|date=September 2008 When choosing which system a government will go with, great consideration has to be made. A serious question arises during this process; What should this election be designed to achieve? Some general answers that answer that important question are:
* To enable the representation of voters’ opinion in rough proportion to their strength in the electorate
* To allow for the representation of geographically-defined areas
* To decisively confer power on a team of leaders or a party.” An election has to have a clear reason behind it, and voters have to be aware of these reasons as well.
Despite the different methods that Britain uses for election time, electoral geography still has a play in each outcome. Electoral geography is the reason that the voters chose the way they didFact|date=July 2008, and why. Even if there are more than two parties to choose from, or simply a Conservative and Labour party, electoral geography is still a large factor.
One of the most influential parts of electoral geography is
gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the deliberate mutilation of size and shape of a territory to benefit one side of politics or ethnic group and hurt the other side. A once seemingly peaceful and even district can be distorted to look biased and racial after the four tools of gerrymandering have taken effect. Four gerrymandering tools that an official uses are:
* Splitting or dilution of the concentrations of the other side, so as to leave them a minority in as many districts as possible
* Packing or concentrating the other side in as few districts as possible, so that many of their votes are ‘wasted’, while also creating many districts with moderate margins of your side
incumbents of the other side in the same revised districts
* Creating "winner takes all"
multi-member districts with your party in the majority.
History of gerrymandering
After a salamander-shaped electoral district was authorized by Massachusetts Governor
Eldridge Gerryin the 1800s, gerrymandering was the term used for the manipulation of electoral regions. SomeWho|date=September 2008 argue this is open discrimination. Such discrimination is related to issues of political party, race or ethnicity, incumbent members and kind of territory (e.g., Urban versus rural). This easy way to foresee the results was employed in the 1800s and was abused once black people were given the right to vote. Even today people with language differences and cultural barriers are differentiated and grouped together to hopefully not effect the majority vote.
Earlier, during the duration of gerrymandering, once blacks were permitted to vote an effort to restrict their effect was instated. “Even after districts became more equal in population and as blacks began to register and vote, legislatures tried to minimize black representation.”Citequote|date=September 2008 As these events escalated the
Voting Rights Actof 1966 diminished the possibilities of discrimination. This technique has been criticized through out timeFact|date=July 2008, since its beginning. It is nearly impossible to alleviate any trace of discrimination in a geographic region simply due to population differences. On the other hand, one party should not be disproportionately favored or hurt. The recent instance with the 2000 Presidential election and the instated law of no one with a prior felony could vote, is a law violation in itselfFact|date=July 2008.
Electoral geography is more prevalent than weWho|date=September 2008 think. It decides who is elected and who is forced to think about the next elections. It is the pattern of what we deiced as a nation, showing us what voters think, where they think it and why. This is an extremely useful tool for politicians because it allows them to know where to rally and what to say when doing so. Electoral geography presents candidates with the map of what issues are important to whom and where those people are located. Distortions of this process are important when deciding if it is a fair game. The Electoral College is a widely disputed factor of our democracy. Maybe in the future it will be abolished due to the advantage that certain politicians get from it, maybe it will remain in the structure. In the end electoral geography will decide what stays and what goes.
* Mellow, Nicole and Trubowitz, Peter. 2002. “Red versus Blue: American Electoral Geography and Congressional Bipartisanship”. In Political Geography, pp. 659-677. Thompson Scientific.
* Johnston, Ron. 2005. “Anglo-American Electoral Geography: Same Roots and Same Goals, but Different Means to Ends?”. In Professional Geographer, pp. 580-587. Blackwell Publishing: Oxford
* Barnett, Clive and Low, Murray. 2004. Spaces of Democracy. Sage Publications: New York.
* Demko, George, K. and Wood, William, B. Reordering the World. 1994. Westview Press: Oxford
* Denver, David. Elaections and Voters in Britain. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.
* [http://www.electoralgeography.com Electoral Geography.com]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.