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"One Person, One Vote" Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

Voting-rights advocates are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the "one person, one vote" system of redistricting. (roibu/iStockphoto)
Voting-rights advocates are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the "one person, one vote" system of redistricting. (roibu/iStockphoto)
April 5, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - Voting-rights advocates are declaring victory, after the U.S. Supreme Court decided unanimously on Monday to reject a push to draw state legislative districts based on voter registration figures.

Instead, the high court elected to keep the current system, that draws state districts by total population.

The U.S. Constitution already requires congressional districts to be determined by population a concept known as "one person, one vote."

Jenny Flanagan, vice president with the watchdog group Common Cause, calls the decision "groundbreaking."

"It's a huge win for democracy, affirming the principle that everyone counts and everyone deserves representation," Flanagan says.

Idaho has about 430,000 children, 50,000 undocumented immigrants, and 8,000 people who are incarcerated and many of these non-voting populations live in urban areas.

Those areas could have seen less representation in state government and on regional boards if the case had gone the other way.

Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause, thinks a system with districts based only on the numbers of people who vote could potentially be dangerous.

"Politicians, if they only had to pay attention to those people who are registered to vote, would become actively involved in trying to close down voter registration from large sections of the population who they think might not support them," she says.

The population figures for legislative districts also are used to decide how much money is allocated for public services, such as roads, schools, police and fire departments.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID