Gerrymandering is corrupting our voting system and has become a silent plague on our democracy.
We need to bring the issue the out of shadows and call upon our representatives, presidential candidates and the Supreme Court to fight for fair districting.
Personify the ghost of Elbridge Gerry to activate voters, bringing the issue into the national dialogue and fighting for change.
Gerrymandering is the drawing of political boundaries to give advantage to a state’s governing party.
There are two gerrymandering techniques: packing and cracking. A packed district groups together as many votes of the opposition party as possible, helping the governing party capture and hold surrounding districts. Cracking splits up groups of opposition voters across districts, so they will be outnumbered by backers of the governing party in each district.
According to the “efficiency gap” (a measurement of “wasted” votes per state due to redistricting), 13 states suffer from extreme gerrymandering: Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.*
*How the New Math of Gerrymandering Works, New York Times
On March 26 2019, the Supreme Court heard two gerrymandering cases (one from Maryland — a map drawn by Democratic lawmakers, and one from North Carolina — Republican drawn lines).
The Court will make a ruling in late June — either declaring it unconstitutional and making way for new policy, or deciding to do nothing and the power to redistrict will remain in states’ hands. No matter what they rule, it is a bipartisan issue that needs to be addressed. We need to rally voters around the issue and call upon our elected officials and candidates to fight and formulate solutions for fair districting.
These crazy lines are made via cracking. Districts should be drawn based on population and geography — not on the will of the state legislature.
Gerrymandering is at the core of voting inequality, but because it is difficult to understand and recognize, it is often left out of our national dialogue, even though it greatly effects our democracy.
Elbridge Gerry was the 5th vice president of the United States. His name is not known by many but his legacy has left a lasting impact on our elections. We need to bring him out of the shadows so voters can put a face to the man behind the corruption.
Gerry is the mysterious puppeteer of a corrupt electoral system.
Our mission is to expel the ghost of Gerry from politics through an awareness campaign that connects voters to their representatives.
We will partner with Ben & Jerry’s because they are a creative and playful brand that champions civic issues like reauthorizing the VRA and getting people registered to vote.
The campaign consists of a hotline that connects voters to their representatives, an informational website, and social activations.
We have created a hotline (voiced by the ghost of Elbridge Gerry) that informs callers about gerrymandering, connects them to their representatives, and inspires them to canvas in their city, and submit gerrymandering as a debate topic in the upcoming primaries.
Click the audio file below to give Gerry a call for yourself.
Revealgerry.com introduces the character of Gerry, promotes the hotline and events, and highlights organizations and ballot measures combating gerrymandering.
When users first enter the site they will be greeted with this ghostly video that introduces the character of Gerry.
The homepage consists of a timer counting down to the Supreme Court decision. The “Expel Gerry” button prompts users to the hotline (where they can contact their representatives). They can hit the “send sage” button to send cleansing themed postcards to their representatives encouraging them to support fair districting laws.
The about page introduces the ghost of Elbridge Gerry, summarizing his career in politics and how he paved the way for gerrymandering as we know it.
The website highlights national organizations fighting for fair districting and state ballot measures regulating gerrymandering.
Users are encouraged to donate their time, money, and support to these initiatives.
We will host Ghost Tours in D.C during the month of July to celebrate Elbridge Gerry’s birthday (July 17th, 2019 will be his 275th). Guests will ride in Gerry-branded hearses, taking the traditional sight-seeing route while learning about gerrymandering, voting inequality, and potential solutions.
After users contact their representatives or take a ghost tour, they can purchase Gerry gear to show that they “believe” in this ghost story. Items include t-shirts, matches, sage, and a special “gerrymandered” flavor of ice cream.
“Berrymandered” Ice Cream Flavor
Ben & Jerrys will release a gerrymandered inspired ice cream in the 13 states that are considered the most gerrymandered according to the efficiency gap. For anyone who does not live in one of these states, they can purchase the flavor on the website.
The Gerry Instagram
Our carousel social posts will feature the extremely gerrymandered districts. The first image will feature a congressional representative, with Gerry “photobombing” in the background. The second image will reveal the district. While these elected officials are not necessarily at fault for Gerrymandering, it is their responsibility to fight for fair districting in their states.
Reversed Gerry Graffiti
We will use the reversed graffiti technique (strategically cleaning dirt to produce an image) to mysteriously promote the hotline.
Timeline & User Journey
We mapped out all the components and goals of the campaign in accordance with the Supreme court ruling and presidential primary debates this summer.
The campaign is built for new voters who are excited to engage in politics. We are also targeting active voters who will share Gerry with their more politically apathetic friends.
The graphic below illustrates how all the activations work together to raise awareness around gerrymandering.
Why This Works
Ghost stories are captivating and shareable. By encapsulating gerrymandering into the tale of Gerry the poltergeist, we are taking a complex and overwhelming issue and making it part funny, part spooky, and much more digestible.
The campaign is bipartisan and actionable — we are making it easier and more fun for all voters to contact their elected officials. It is also adaptable and long-lasting; it can morph in response to the politics. Gerry will continue to haunt until gerrymandering is cleansed from our democracy.
Meghan Gaffney, Experience Designer Paige Rollins, Experience Designer Sailee Gupte, Experience Designer Elise Sokolowski, Experience Designer
Research Campaign strategy Content strategy