ACLU opposes prison gerrymandering in Florida’s school boards
by Aleks Kajstura, September 16, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is urging the School Board of Hamilton County to avoid prison gerrymandering. As Nancy Abudu, the Director of Legal Operations at the ACLU of Florida, wrote:
If the new school board districts are based on unadjusted Census Bureau data… the few actual residents who live near the prison would have more say in local government than anyone living anywhere else in the county.
The school district has not redistricted in a while, letting population shifts over time slowly skew the distribution of voting power among the Board’s districts. And the School Board is now in the process of redistricting to equalize the population among the districts, providing its residents an election system that upholds the principles of “one person, one vote”.
But the Census Bureau’s method of counting incarcerated people from across the state as if they were residents of a state prison located in the county threatens to undermine the County’s efforts at equal representation for the county’s actual residents. Based on our research, if the Board were to use Census data, without adjusting for the prison population, the district with the prison in it would likely have less than a hundred of actual residents while every other district would have nearly 3,000.
As the ACLU’s letter suggests:
Removing the incarcerated populations from [the Board’s] redistricting data… would ensure that [the Board’s] new districts contain equal numbers of actual county residents.