Disenfranchised urban prisoners are not rural constituents
by Peter Wagner, November 24, 2003
Counting urban prisoners as rural residents turns the entire idea that districts should be of equal population on its head. In three New York Senate districts, and 10 Assembly districts, at least 2% of the “constituents” are prisoners. The district of upstate Republican Chris Ortloff has the highest percentage of prisoners in the legislature: 6.99%.
The population to be “represented” by Assemblyman Ortloff includes 5,594 Black adults, 82.6% of who are barred by law from ever voting for or against him. By the time these prisoners complete their sentences and are again allowed to vote, they will be back home in a different district.
The prisoners should never have been counted locally for the same reason vacationers are not counted locally: they are only there temporarily.
How prison counts change district lines. A graphical explanation using Assemblyman Chris Otloff’s district 114 as the example