June 3, 2015

POWER TO THE VOTERS:

The Supreme Court Could Transfer A Lot Of Political Power Away From Cities (DAVID WASSERMAN and HARRY ENTEN, 6/03/15, 538)

[T]he Texas plaintiffs argue that states should be allowed to apportion seats based on where only U.S. citizens over 18 years of age live.

It seems like a minor detail, but it's actually a major distinction. The decennial Census doesn't track citizenship data, but the Census's American Community Survey does. And although all 435 U.S. congressional districts have roughly equal total populations, the number of eligible voters and rates of actual participation can vary wildly from place to place.

For example, in Florida's 11th District, home to the largely white retirement mecca of The Villages, 81 percent of all residents are adult citizens. But in California's heavily Latino 34th District, anchored by downtown Los Angeles, only 41 percent of all residents are eligible to vote. The variations across districts in terms of actual turnout can be even more eye-popping. According to results compiled by Polidata for the Cook Political Report, Montana's lone House district cast 483,932 votes for president in 2012, more than four times the tally in Texas's 29th District, 114,901.

A move toward counting only eligible voters, as logistically difficult as it may be, would drastically shift political power away from the urban environs with minorities and noncitizens, and toward whiter areas with larger native-born populations. That's bad news for Democrats: Of the 50 congressional districts with the lowest shares of eligible voters, 41 are occupied by Democrats (nearly all are Latino-majority seats). Meanwhile, of the 50 districts with the highest shares of eligible voters, 38 are represented by the GOP.



Posted by at June 3, 2015 8:46 PM
  

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