A portrait of Peter Wagner.
Peter Wagner
Executive Director
I need your help. For 14 years, the Prison Policy Initiative has been at the forefront of the movement to keep the prison system from exerting undue influence on our electoral process. Our work has changed how our democracy works in 4 states and hundreds of local governments. We've even won at the Supreme Court, but our long-term viability depends on people like you investing in our work.

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—Peter Wagner
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If tax-paying part-time residents shouldn’t be counted outside their home districts, neither should incarcerated people

by Aleks Kajstura, February 19, 2010  

In a recent editorial, “In new Census, home is where the vote should be,” the Times Herald-Record (Orange County, NY), examines the issue of prison-based gerrymandering in the larger context of voting and election law in New York State.

If it is not right to let a two-month bungalow colony resident vote in the Town of Bethel or the owner of a year-round vacation home vote in Taghkanic, then it should be even less acceptable to let thousands of people who cannot vote, who do not pay taxes, and who really would rather be somewhere else count toward the population of an Assembly, Senate or House district.

I don’t share the paper’s pessimism that we need litigation to resolve where incarcerated people should be counted, I think we can resolve this problem on the core principle of our democratic process: one person, one vote. Fairness, accuracy and the New York State Constitution demand that incarcerated people not be counted as constituents of politicians far from their home districts.

Note: The New York State Const. Article 2, Section 4 provides that “no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a residence, by reason of his presence or absence … while confined in any public prison.”

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