MD State Senator Nancy Jacobs (R, 34) has asked for an opinion from the Attorney General, Doug Gansler on the upcoming redistricting practice.
Jacobs has requested that the Attorney General issue an opinion to determine whether or not legislative districts should be determined per person or per citizen.
The Supreme Court held in a 1964 case Reynolds v Simms that the “one man, one vote” principle required roughly equal voting districts. Once a decade, Maryland redraws political boundaries to roughly equalize votes. According to Jacobs’ office, that currently means that each state Senator represents 80,000 people.
Jacobs is concerned with what she says is the the state practice to redistrict based on the number of people in an area, and not the number of citizens. If one senatorial district represents 80,000 people, but 10,000 of them are non-citizens, one citizen’s vote in that district is one of only 70,000 potential votes. If another senatorial district has only 1,000 non-citizens, citizen votes in that district would count for one in 79,000 potential votes. This discrepency can dilute the “one man, one vote” principle.
Since the distribution of non-citizens is not equal, with counties bordering D.C. having a higher concentration than rural areas such as Alleghany and Harford, the citizens in more urban counties would have their vote given greater weight.
There are three Delgates for every Senator in Maryland, potentially making the impact greater in the lower chamber.
Here is Sen. Jacobs’ press release:
Senator Jacobs Requests Attorney General Opinion on the Practice of Counting Non-Citizens for Legislative Redistricting
Annapolis, MD—In an effort to promote voter equality among Maryland’s citizens, Senator Nancy Jacobs has requested an opinion from the Maryland Attorney General regarding the current practice of the State of Maryland counting non-citizens in the processes of drawing up voter (legislative) districts.
The 2000 Census provided by the United States Census Bureau included 283,604 non-citizens who were included in the ‘total resident’ count that the Maryland Department of Planning used to determine the population for the purposes of legislative redistricting. This led to Senate and House of Delegate districts that were roughly 6,000 (Senate side) and 2,000 (House side) too large. It effectively diluted the votes of all people by about 5.3% statewide and theoretically would vary based on districts with more non-citizens versus districts with less non-citizens.
The Maryland Department of Planning’s website explains that they, like all other states, use the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case of Reynolds v. Simms. The Reynolds case decided that Senators and Delegates did not represent areas, but that they represented citizens. The case said that the dilution of votes by eligible citizens was unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
Senator Jacobs said:
“I am a strong believer in the Constitutional rights afforded to citizens and voting is one of our most sacred rights. Voting is a truly democratic principle that must be fairly administered so that each citizen’s vote is equally valued. The current practice of counting non-citizens for the purposes of drawing up voter districts disenfranchises all Maryland voters, potential voters, and Maryland citizens. I expect the Attorney General will opine in favor of equality among citizens and that the state will adopt such an opinion into their redistricting process.”
The opinion request is attached and is available online at: