Maine residents take up petition against prison-based gerrymandering in school district

by Peter Wagner, September 9, 2009  

The residents of Maine’s Regional School Unit 13 have launched a petition drive to end prison-based gerrymandering in their school district. The school district’s voting system is based on Census Bureau estimates for 2006 that credited the town of Thomaston with the population of the Maine State Prison that had closed 4 years prior. Not only does Maine state law say that a prison is not a residence, the prison counted in the Census did not even exist at the time of the count.

Unfortunately, the school board has refused to change the voting system, and to date the Commissioner of Education has ignored requests [PDF] to intervene.

By Maine law, voters can use a petition to require the Commissioner to rule on whether a voting system violates the constitutional principles of One Person One Vote.

The petition is only open to the residents of Cushing, Owls Head, Rockland, South Thomaston, St. George, and Thomaston Maine, but this page of question and answers explains the campaign.

Sept 10 update: St. George Select Board Chairman William Reinhardt tells the Knox County Herald Gazette that he supports changing the RSU 13 apportionment to give his town a fairer voice on the school board.

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