An interesting case was just brought before the U.S. Supreme Court that could have massive ramifications for our electoral system. It centers around the definition of “one person, one vote.” The question is, exactly what does that mean? When districts are created, right now it’s based on population, but should that definition be refined?I was reading a recent piece by Drew Desilver of the Pew Research Center, which said, “This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a Texas case that challenges the way nearly every U.S. voting district – from school boards to Congress – is drawn.
The case asks the court to specify what the word “person” means in its “one person, one vote” rule. The outcome of the case could have major impacts on Hispanic voting strength and representation from coast to coast.
Ever since a series of landmark rulings in the 1960s, districts have been drawn “as nearly of equal population as is practicable.” (As Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the majority in Reynolds v. Sims, “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”)
The high court didn’t directly say what “equal population” meant, but states and localities have almost invariably used total population figures. And that population is determined by the decennial census. However, the appellants in the Texas case, Evenwel v. Abbott, argue that districts instead should be drawn to have equal numbers of eligible voters. (The case involves redistricting within states, not reapportioning congressional seats among states.)That’s a big distinction, because in many states, districts with nearly equal total populations can have dramatically different numbers of eligible voters (that is, U.S. citizens ages 18 and older).”
Let’s repeat that again. There is a huge differentiation between just plain population and the number of eligible voters. For example, there are areas where felony arrests mean someone can be part of the population, but will never be an eligible voter.
The question that arises is, does this violate the basic sense of “taxation without representation” upon which our revolution was ignited?
Think about what happens if all of a sudden you have a segment of the population that does not count towards the drawing of voting districts. You know the main argument will be that this leads towards disenfranchisement.However, should we be counting non-American citizens and others who aren’t eligible to vote as part of the electoral calculus determining how representatives are elected?
This chart shows how large percentages of the Asian and Hispanic populations are not eligible to vote.
I can just hear the outcries of racism and xenophobia. But the greater question begging to be considered is, do those who cannot participate in the electoral process deserve consideration in the electoral calculation? Now, I’m not talking about the 13-year-old kid, but what about the adult here in America who works, pays taxes, but is awaiting his or her legal immigration status to be completed?
You know, once upon a time, it was only male property owners who could vote in America. Of course we evolved and suffrage was given to blacks and women. And of course now, every American, aged 18 and above who doesn’t have a felony offense is eligible to vote. Is that the population upon which we should base the construct of districts?
So now the U.S .Supreme Court is considering the fundamental question: what does “person” mean in the “one person, one vote” rule? Certainly there are places — and I personally know of a few — where we probably need to define if person means someone dead or alive. And there are places in America where illegal immigrants are being provided with drivers licenses, and based on the Motor Voter Law, could find themselves being registered to vote. They certainly do have a picture ID.
I will leave it here, but I want to hear from you. What do you think defines “equal population” and what is the definition of “person” in America when it comes to the voting process? Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren certainly made it clear what he thought a “person” was — a voter who elects representatives.
Stay tuned to this decision, because it could have massive ramifications and consequences, and you know doggone well, the liberal progressive socialists ain’t happy about this.