Constitutional Law I - Perkins v. City of West Helena: At Large Elections Resulting in Vote Dilution - A Subtle Discrimination against Minority Voters

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Peetz, Sarah Gerhart
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1983
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INTRODUCTION|The right to vote has traditionally been recognized as a fundamental interest under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. In addition, the fifteenth amendment specifically expanded the right of sufferage to blacks. In Reynolds v. Sims, the United States Supreme Court recognized that every citizen has an "inalienable right to full and effective participation in the political processes of his State's legislative bodies." Minority groups have challenged election schemes that directly or indirectly exclude them from exercising their right to vote in violation of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment and the voting rights protection of the fifteenth amendment. Some of the first incidents of citizens struggling to exercise their right to an effective vote arose in cases dealing with apportionment, i.e., the equal representation of districts in proportion to their population. Early voting rights cases culminated into the "one person, one vote" principle. Under this principle, election districts must be made nearly equal in population so that each person's vote has substantially the same weight as any other person's vote, regardless of the district in which the vote is cast. Although the one person, one vote principle may insure voting equality, it ignores the right of representational equality. For example, gerrymandered or multimember districts fulfill the one person, one vote requirement of Reynolds, yet they deny many voters a chance for an effective voice in the political process...
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16 Creighton L. Rev. 943 (1982-1983)
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Creighton University School of Law
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