Calculating the impact on weighted voting systems

Weighted voting is another way to apportion political power in a county in accordance with population. Instead of drawing districts to ensure that each district contains the same number of people, each district is given a different weight at the legislature in proportion to its population.

Example: The most common -- and easiest to understand -- use of weighted voting is in corporate shareholder elections. Each person who owns a share of the company can vote, but their votes are counted in proportion to the number of shares they own. Typically, each share is worth one vote, so a person who owns 10 shares can influence the company towards a certain policy with 10 times the clout of someone who owns only one share. If you find it helpful, you can think of this as the shares voting through the person who represents the shares at the meeting.

The most common use of weighted voting schemes is when a county wants to ensure that each town is formally represented in the county government but they want to ensure that county decisions are made in proportion to the county's population.

Note: In a weighted voting system, the county does not have districts as such, but the legislature is made up of representatives who are elected by only one area of the county.

For example, imagine a hypothetical county with 7 towns, where each town has this population:

Town Census Population
Appleton 2,409
Boyton 2,119
Charlietown 1,315
Davidson 713
Easton 2,306
Floresville 1,063
Gainesville 1,200

There are several ways that a weighted voting system could be set up. In some counties, they might give the representative of each town one vote for each resident.

Typically, all of a representative's votes must be used in the same way. So if the representative from Appleton votes "yes" on a measure, then 2,409 votes are counted for "yes".

Other counties might simplify things by proportionally reducing the number of votes for each town. For example, if the number of votes could be determined by dividing the population of each town by 100, giving 24 votes to Appleton and 21 to Boyton. This might make counting the votes easier.

Still other counties might slightly adjust the number of votes that each town receives in order to make it mathematically more likely that individual towns can cast a deciding vote.

As long as the number of votes given to each town is roughly proportional to the town's population, all of these methods achieve the same result of distributing political power to county residents in proportion to the their numbers.

But as with drawing districts fairly, the number of votes given to each town should be proportional to the actual numbers of residents in that town. The prison populations should be removed prior to assigning the number of votes to each town.

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