How Gerrymandering Affects Your Credit

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As borrowers, you expect certain financial decisions and governmental factors to affect your credit. However, one popular political issue you may not expect to influence your credit is gerrymandering. In fact, gerrymandering has several local economic influences — a major one being your availability to access credit. Before explaining the credit implications of gerrymandering, it’s important to understand what the practice is, how it occurs, and where it’s most likely to happen.

What is gerrymandering?

At the most basic level, gerrymandering is the process of manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency to favor one political party over the other. The practice was first recognized in 1812 when Governor Elbridge Gerry redistricted Massachusetts in order to benefit the Democratic party. Named after him, gerrymandering has since been used by both the Republican and Democratic parties to influence elections.

How does it happen?

Every 10 years following the U.S. census, states redraw the boundaries of local districts to reflect population changes with the intention of ensuring districts are evenly populated. This process is referred to as redistricting. In most states, the state legislature and Governor draw these lines and when they draw them in their own political favor, gerrymandering begins. This essentially allows politicians to choose their constituents, instead of the other way around.

Most gerrymandering follows one of two processes, referred to as packing and cracking. The packing strategy over-concentrates supporters of a particular political party into a single district in order to reduce its ability to affect the outcome for surrounding districts. The cracking strategy does the opposite by separating a voting bloc into multiple districts to water down its influence. Regardless of strategy, gerrymandering allows politicians to give their opponents a small number of safe votes to give themselves a larger number. This reduces competition and increases the likelihood of a party’s re-election.

Where is it happening?

While gerrymandering occurs from coast to coast, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas have some of the most gerrymandered districts.

How does it affect my credit?

So, how does this all affect your credit? According to NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, when gerrymandering occurs, you decrease a politician’s risk of losing, making them less responsive to their constituents. As a district becomes more and more gerrymandered, it becomes harder for that district’s constituents to get access to credit. In fact, in a gerrymandered district, someone would need to have $3,400 more in personal income to get a loan approved. This is because lenders are very aware of political regulations and oversight, so when the local government is less concerned about its constituents, lenders have more freedom to do wrong by their customers. As a result, lenders make it more difficult and expensive for you to get credit.

Being aware of your local redistricting can have a large impact on your credit health. If you’re in a position where you need credit help or credit repair services, visit to check, challenge, and change your credit.


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