If rigging elections were legal, this is how it'd look. Because it's exactly how they do it.

Rigged elections are like the stuff of movies. It's hard to believe it can happen in real life.

But it turns out it can and does. All the time, actually. But not at the polls.


Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images.

It's a common practice known as redistricting or "gerrymandering." The process can be very confusing, and politicians have little to gain by making it easier for us to understand.

Thankfully, fact wizard Adam Conover is coming at us with the basics of how gerrymandering works.

The former CollegeHumor personality who now stars in truTV's "Adam Ruins Everything" is here to break it down with the eye-opening clarity we need.

All images from truTV/YouTube.

"Every 10 years," he explains, "politicians redraw the districts that pick the House and state legislatures."

But that's not the problem. This is:

So in effect, they can determine election outcomes years ahead of the actual elections. And obviously, politicians with that much control are going to exercise some bias.

Conover illustrates this twisted but totally legal concept with the fictional state of “Newstateadelphia."

Voter registration in this state is pretty straightforward: 40% are members of the Yellow Party. The other 60% of voters belong to the Purple Party.

So creating electoral districts should be pretty easy, right?

"Now, if you divided this state into districts fairly, you'd get perfect representation," Conover explains. "Three purple districts and two yellow districts."

Here's what fair districting would look like:

But "fairly" and "politics" aren't always words that go hand in hand.

As Conover points out, if the Purple Party controls the entire district-making process, they can create districts that give them complete control over the state.

Here's what that might look like:

Redrawing districts so Purple voters are the majority dramatically increases the likelihood of a Purple candidate winning in that district. And once your party is in power, you can start passing laws.

It also works in reverse: Even a party with fewer voters in an area can redraw districts to their benefit.

"Even though the Yellow Party has less voters in Newstateadelphia, if they're allowed to redraw the lines, they can still win," Conover says. "And this happens every election year in America."

Does that sound like rigging an election? Some would would say it's the very definition of it.

Watch Conover's full explainer below, and if you want our votes to carry the weight they deserve, pass this along.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

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Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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