Back in 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry approved a voting map that had one district carefully drawn to favor his party. In the eyes of some, it looked like a salamander. Since then, manipulating districts to unfairly benefit a political party has been referred to as gerrymandering after the governor.
The process is completely legal in most states, including Michigan. As a result, voting districts today sometimes look like their own creatures.
You can scroll down to see what some southeast Michiganders said they saw when we gave them the test on the street and at our station. Click on the audio player above to hear them.
But first, you might want to take the test yourself here.
Michigan’s U.S. District 9 (Democrat Sander Levin)
“When you tilt it on its side it kind of looks like a weird Simpson’s character. Like, kind of like if Homer was melting and his little arm was sticking out.” -Heather Zayne, Royal Oak
“It looks like a train. One of the older locomotive versions I guess. That would be the smoke, the thing that doesn’t make any sense, and then this thing, this more rectangular thing, the chimney coming up.” -Alexandria Balde, age 13
Michigan’s U.S. District 11 (Republican David Trott)
“Maybe a hand gun?” -Ryien Hosseini, Ann Arbor
“There’s a game called Hangman and you draw a hangman type of thing, like the thing that you hang the guy on, and that’s what it looks like.” -Sydney Harker, age 14, West Bloomfield
“It kind of looks like there’s a hill or a cliff and then a building at the top. Maybe a person on top of that building?” – Breanna Anderson, Canton
See something different? Take WDET’s Redistricting Rorschach Test HERE.
Michigan’s U.S. District 13 (formerly Democrat John Conyers)
“I can’t say it’s an ‘L’ but it goes up, comes down, then goes up, then goes across and then goes back down.” -Gregory Howell, Inkster
Michigan’s U.S. District 14 (Democrat Brenda Lawrence)
“In a weird way that [bottom portion] kinda looks like somebody’s arm making a muscle.” -Nachelle Webster, Downtown Detroit
“It kind of looks like there’s a person hunched over. You can see their face and their neck is going forward and then they’re sitting down with their arms in their lap… It’s like they’re sitting on a bench.” -Isabella Ashtari, age 14, West Bloomfield
Click the audio player at the top of this post to hear residents saying what shapes they see in these districts.
Take WDET’s Redistricting Rorschach Test HERE.
Here’s other WDET work on the gerrymandering issue:
Talk Show Programming
WATCH HERE: A live one-hour show with an in-studio audience and guests at 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 26. Tune in at 101.9 FM or online at WDET.org. Or join on WDET’s Facebook page where we’ll live stream the show. The show rebroadcasts at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 3. Listen HERE for WDET 101.9 FM live online.
A Podcast Playlist – Become a Gerrymandering Expert Just By Listening
NPR’s Hidden Brain: Gerrymandering and You