On Monday morning, the Supreme Court Justices unanimously ruled in Evenwel v. Abbott to uphold the “One Person, One Vote” principle by allowing states to count all residents–regardless of voting eligibility–in “drawing election districts.”
But is “one person, one vote” really the neutral standard that everyone thinks it is?
As New York Times writer Adam Liptak stated, “the decision was more notable for what it did not do than for what it did.” Liptak went on to explain that the opposite decision would have “shifted political power from cities to rural areas… benefit(ing) Republicans.”
Liptak is correct: this ruling does not drastically change anything, but in fact mostly maintains the status quo that gives the Democrat Party a slight edge when drawing voter districts. Cities with a higher population are typically more urban, and generally have more illegal immigrants and children–residents who cannot vote, but will be counted as part of the total population when drawing election districts. Thus, these cities will have greater voting power, and since urban areas tend to lean Democratic, these benefits will go toward the Democrat Party. Had the Court ruled the opposite way, however, the political power would have shifted to the more rural areas, places that tend to vote Republican.
The current system for drawing election districts, however, isn’t the only thing that tips the electoral scales in favor of the Democrats: the general election process via the Electoral College tips the scales as well.
In an article in the Washington Examiner, author Matt A. Mayer goes into great detail as to how the electoral college favors the Democratic candidate. In short, there are certain states that Democrat candidates will almost always win, and certain other states that Republican candidates will almost always win. Based on these states, the Democrat candidate will likely have 242 electoral votes, while the Republican candidate will have 170 votes. Candidates need 270 electoral votes to win, meaning the Democratic candidate will need just 28 votes, while the Republican candidate will need 100. These votes will come from the 126 electoral votes left among the 11 swing states.
These arguments beg the question: if the current system favors one political party over another, shouldn’t changes be made to institute true impartiality in our nation’s voting system? Evenwel v. Abbott left that question unanswered, and it remains to be seen whether or not those kinds of reforms might come to pass.