Quick Takes: Voting Districts

The supreme court agreed to reconsider the meaning of the “one person, one vote” policy. the results may alter voting districts to only count legally registered voters instead of total population.

New Policy Would  Skew Voters’ Representation And Result In Little More Than Veiled Gerrymandering

A democratic government is one “of the people, by the people, for the people.” President Abraham Lincoln knew this, and ideally, this would be immutably true. Regardless of racial, social and financial classification, everybody who lives in this democratic country is one of those people whom Lincoln refers to, and it follows that the composition of the government should be determined by every single one of us to some degree. That does not mean that non-citizens should be allowed to vote, but it does mean, in the most basic sense, that they should be counted and recognized as fellow residents of the nation.

The terrible truth about American voting and government is that the majority of legal citizens are not truly represented by those they elect. In a 2014 study conducted by political science professors at Princeton and Northwestern University, it was determined that the influence of “ordinary Americans” on policy outcomes is at a “non-significant, near-zero level.” In this sense, it is preposterous to contest that jurisdictional populations should be based upon the number of eligible voters instead of the total population. Those citizens who brought the case to court know as well as anybody else that reclassification of this kind will not make the government any more representative of the country as a whole.

This latest redistributive effort is little more than veiled gerrymandering. It is no secret that, should this shift be enacted toward a count of potential voters instead of total population, American citizens in rural areas would benefit, gaining more voting power relative to urban areas populated by a greater proportion of non-citizens. It is not a coincidence that those in rural areas are much more likely to vote Republican. As a consequence, not only would non-citizens be entirely disenfranchised in the voting system but they would also be systematically devalued and persecuted as scapegoats by the resultant Republican mindset.

—  SAM THOBURN Senior Staff Writer

 

Change In Voter’s Districts Would Benefit Conservatives, While Undermining Support for Minority Groups

While only counting registered voters may seem intuitively fair, this law would disproportionately lower the amount of influence that minority groups, particularly Latinos, have to elect their preferred candidates. Aside from this, however, it is clear that the movement is first and foremost a power grab on behalf of Republicans. The upcoming Supreme Court case on the issue is being guided by Republican Ed Blum, who aims to make constitutional challenges to laws that show preference to minorities, according to the Washington Post. Blum is also pushing a second court case (Shelby County v. Holder), which challenges a pivotal section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In light of this apparent bias, one might conclude that the “problem” is not a problem at all; it’s actually another partisan-fueled debate over something that should not be debated (i.e., the legal results of the civil rights movement). If this isn’t reason enough to doubt the legitimacy of this case, the large-scale disenfranchisement of immigrant and other non-voting groups that this new voting system would cause should raise some alarm.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 77 percent of people who are “consistently liberal” favor urban communities, while 75 percent of “consistent conservatives” favor a more spacious lifestyle because they have greater influence in those areas. In other words, people live in places that match their politics. Pew also shows that ethnic diversity is more important to liberals than to conservatives. This demonstrates that immigrant groups may actually receive a kind of indirect representation by influencing the voting power of registered voters in their communities, who in turn are more likely to support their interests. The proposed shift in the way districts are counted would dilute the voting power of liberal urban districts, thus severely restricting minority influence.

—  HAILEY SANDEN Senior Staff Writer