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Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds 'One Person, One Vote' Districting

The Supreme Court ruled against the proposed "one voter, one vote" method of drawing up state legislative districts.

By Katie Link | April 4, 2016

On Monday, all eight members of the Supreme Court agreed legislative districts in each state should continue to be based on population rather than the number of eligible voters.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, challenged the constitutionality of a legislative practice, which has been in place since the '60s. It's called "one person, one vote," and it simply means voting districts are drawn up based on the total number of people in them.

But this system leaves some districts with a higher percentage of noneligible voters — namely felons, noncitizens and children. The challengers argued the system devalues the votes of people who live in areas with a higher population of eligible voters.

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Their proposed solution? "One voter, one vote": Draw up districts based on eligible voters rather than total population in order to even the playing field.

But restructuring the districts in this way could’ve had a major impact on Hispanics and Asians. According to Pew Research Center, only 46 percent of the nation’s 55 million Hispanics are eligible to vote, and only about 55 percent of the 16 million Asians in the country are eligible.

And as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the court's decision, "Representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible to vote."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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