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.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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