Prison-based gerrymandering dilutes your vote

“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”Brent Staples

Called prison-based gerrymandering, the practice finds its clearest example in Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.

Learn more about Anamosa:

New York Times article thumbnail Census Bureau's Counting of Prisoners Benefits Some Rural Voting Districts by Sam Roberts, New York Times, October 24, 2008
iowa public radio logo Prisons and City Elections, by Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio, November 3, 2009. Listen: mp3

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