How decades of gerrymandering have undermined American democracy

This segment originally aired Nov. 2, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

“Right now, we are in the ground zero of gerrymandering in Michigan,” Democratic State Rep. Jeremy Moss told VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas in Detroit.

Invisible lines carve the Detroit metro area into one of the weirdest-looking congressional districts in the country. People call it the “8-mile mess” because it was subjected to so much gerrymandering, the practice of creatively redrawing congressional districts along partisan lines. Successfully gerrymandering a state can help a party elect more representatives than it would otherwise, even if it receives fewer votes. Both parties are already gearing up for 2020, because whoever controls redistricting controls Congress.

“The voters should be choosing their congressional members, their elected representatives,” Moss said. “Instead, it’s become the legislators choosing which voters they want.”

Michigan was one of the rust belt states that pollsters expected Hillary Clinton to win on Tuesday but ultimately swung the election in Donald Trump’s favor.

“You can draw a fair and legal map, but there’s things you can do so it favors your party,” political consultant Dan McMaster said. “Redistricting only comes once every 10 years. It’s like the Super Bowl. It’s like the Olympics.”

McMaster and his team worked hard to flip the state Legislature from Democrat to Republican in 2010, which gave the GOP control of redistricting. They’ve been able to circumvent the Democratic popular vote in every election since.

Watch next: Meet the steel workers who voted for Trump in Pennsylvania

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