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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  • May 11, 2015:
    Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy will be in NYC for the book launch party for Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works at 67 Orange. The party — and the royalties from the book — are to benefit the Prison Policy Initiative.

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Events

  • April 22, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Colby College in Waterville Maine to speak about “The Geography of punishment: Reflections on inequity in mass incarceration” at 7pm.
  • April 28, 2015:
    Policy & Communications Associate Bernadette Rabuy will be attending the Smith College Student Government Association’s Hampshire County Criminal Justice Meet and Greet on Tuesday, April 28 from 5-7pm at the Carroll Room at Smith College Campus Center.
  • May 11, 2015:
    Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy will be in NYC for the book launch party for Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works at 67 Orange. The party — and the royalties from the book — are to benefit the Prison Policy Initiative.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

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