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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Wait, Are Salamanders Voting?

2016 September 28


As the 2016 general elections grow nearer, questions surface regarding voting rights and fairness, as is typical in election years. One element of elections that can alter voting fairness, and election results, is the drawing of district lines.  In response to one dispute on this topic, the US Supreme Court decided in late June to take on a case that may impact voters in two electoral districts in North Carolina.

Electoral districts are regions that organize votes during elections. Voters elect representatives from Congressional districts in each state to serve in the US House of Representatives. Districts for each state legislature are used to elect politicians into state governments. These districts are intended to ensure that citizens in every region of every state have adequate representation in both state and federal legislatures.

According to the US Constitution, each state is required to redraw its congressional districts every 10 years, following the census that the federal government conducts to count the country’s population. Each state is responsible for determining and implementing the method it will use to complete this task. For example, in April Illinois established a new plan to create a Senate Redistricting Commission and a House Redistricting Commission, with no more than 5 members of the same political party on each commission.

Various types of such commissions exist in different states, each with unique requirements. According to Professor Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School, several states have advisory commissions that make recommendations to the legislature regarding district boundaries.

The commissions created in ...

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