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Democracy

Font made out of gerrymandered congressional districts shows how effed up our system is

Font made out of gerrymandered congressional districts shows how effed up our system is

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.


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The Gerry font is a real, usable font "created by your congressional districts." It was actually created by a couple of guys in Chicago, but they seem to prefer remaining anonymous and letting the letters speak for themselves. Most of the letters are singular voting districts, while some are pieced together from a couple of different districts. But the fact that any voting district could look like any readable letter of the alphabet is a bit, well, absurd.

You can download the font for free at UglyGerry.com. The website specifies the districts used to make each letter and encourages people to use the font "to tell congress how happy you are that your vote doesn't matter."

Your letter to congress might end up looking a bit like a ransom note, but that's kind of the point. Our votes are being held hostage by politicians trying to gain the upper hand by squiggling with Sharpies on our maps. The geographical gymnastics they engage in to do so would be impressive if it wasn't so ridiculous.

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As Representative Mark Takano of California pointed out, "Gerrymandering in America is so bad, they made an entire font out of it. This font is hard to decipher and makes no sense—just like most congressional districts."

Seriously, what kind of psychopath draws a voting district that looks like an "N" or an "C" or a "K"?

To give you an idea of what gerrymandering looks like on a real map, see this map of Ohio:

Jim Jordan's district looks like a letter "J"—and that's not even the district the Ugly Gerry folks used in their font.

If you think this is dumb and something that shouldn't be allowed, you're not alone. Unfortunately, you're also not on the Supreme Court, whose majority seems to have tossed up their hands and said, "Nothing we can do!"

So it looks like writing our representatives some sternly worded letters in the creepy Gerry font may be our only recourse if we hope to end this silly practice on both sides of the aisle.

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