arrowSection 6.1 - Constitutional Law

arrowSection 6.2 - Voting Rights Act

This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Steven F. Huefner

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Many elections in the United States, especially those to elect members of a legislature, are conducted by dividing the state or locality into voting districts, each of which elects a single member to represent the citizens who reside within that district. Not all elections follow this model: "at-large" elections occur when the electorate of the entire state or locality votes for all members of a multi-member body. The statewide elections for the seven members of the Ohio Supreme Court are an example of an at-large election: rather than dividing the state into seven geographic districts, the entire electorate of Ohio votes for candidates vying for any of the seven seats (although not all seats are up for election at the same time). But elections for both houses of Ohio's legislature, the General Assembly, follow the districting model: there are 33 districts for elections to the state Senate, and 99 districts for elections to the state House of Representatives.

Whenever districting occurs, it must comply with the basic constitutional principle of one-person-one-vote, meaning that each district must have the roughly same number of people. Section 6.1 addresses questions of how much deviation from strict population equality will be tolerated under constitutional law and for what reasons. Districting plans may also be challenged under the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires that these plans have neither the purpose nor effect of discriminating on the basis of race with respect to voting rights. Questions of statutory law under the Voting Rights Act will be covered in Section 6.2.