When drawing legislative districts, New York State counts incarcerated persons as "residents" of the community where the prison is located, instead of counting them in the home community to which they will return, on average, within 34 months. This practice of prison-based gerrymandering ignores more than 100 years of legal precedent.
Public financing of elections, as a state and local democracy reform, can help enhance the political voice and power of working-class people and people of color. It is an effective antidote to the outsized influence corporations and major donors currently have on both politics and policy.
In 2012, just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the $285.2 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.
Missouri is considering a bill requiring all voters to present government issued photo identification at the polls. The fact that Missouri is introducing a restrictive voter identification bill is particularly unfortunate considering the legislature passed such a bill in 2006 and it was struck down as unconstitutional under the state's constitution by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Virginia legislators are considering several bills that would make it more difficult for eligible persons to cast a ballot that will be counted, and would impose large costs for implementation. One bill requires photo identification in order to vote, while others require one of an enumerated list of identification documents. If the voter does not have identification he must sign a sworn statement of his identity and then cast a provisional ballot.
Prison-based gerrymandering is the practice of counting incarcerated persons as “residents” of a prison when drawing legislative districts in order to give extra influence to the districts that contain the prisons. The U.S. Constitution requires that election districts be roughly equal in size, so that everyone is represented equally in the political process. But prison-based gerrymandering distorts our democracy by artificially inflating the population numbers — and thus, the political clout — of districts with prisons, while diluting the political power of all other voters.