A Dilution of Democracy: Prison-Based Gerrymandering

A Dilution of Democracy: Prison-Based Gerrymandering

November 16, 2010
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The Supreme Court’s “one person, one vote” cases require state and municipal districts to be redrawn each decade so that each district will contain the same number of people and each resident will therefore have the same access to governments. A long-standing flaw in the decennial census counts more than 2 million people in the wrong place and undermines the “one person, one vote” principle. Although people in prison can’t vote and remain residents of their home addresses, the Census Bureau counts people in prison as residents of their prison cells, not their homes. Using this flawed data to draw legislative districts grants the people who live near large prisons extra influence at the expense of voters everywhere else.