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Voters to see changes in November

July 12, 2017 12:15 am

To the editor:

Re: “Voters to see changes in November” (RS 7/8-9/17), no kidding! Good story. But one big misconception needs clarification. It is not true, as reporter Amanda Purcell noted, that “the weighted vote system will be replaced with a one-man, one-vote system.”

In the reporter’s defense, she was quoting Steve Dunn, one of the leaders of the Fair & Equal crew that won the redistricting proposition passed by voters last fall.

The fact that the new wards have little to do with the one person one vote rule was clear from the story itself, which showed that new Ward 1 would have 884 voters; Ward 2, 658 voters; Ward 3, 822 voters; Ward 4, 759; and the new Ward 5, 825 voters. Those disparities — the difference between 884 and 658 is a 34 percent discrepancy in representation and very close to that of the old 5th Ward which is what drew so much ire among the F&E folks — give us the same misrepresentation problem, but without the remedy that weighted voting offered.

It’s too late now, but the fact is, as Ashira Pelman Ostrow, Professor of Law at Hofstra University, points out in a 2016 Florida Law Review article (, “weighted voting satisfies the constitutional one person, one vote requirement” and “has the potential to remedy several negative consequences of equal population districts.”

Indeed, it looks like Mr. Dunn is right about one thing, as he told the Register-Star, the new scheme “has changed the dynamic in the city.” Unfortunately, we seem farther than ever from the goal of one person one vote.

Peter Meyer


One way to achieve voter parity would be to eliminate districts altogether, and let each alderman cast as many votes as they received at the election. In effect, you could think of your vote as giving a proxy to the person who you think will represent you best. This would also encourage turnout. Voters who believe that their favored candidate has a lock, or that they are a lost cause will have an incentive to turn out and vote because it will give their candidate more power and influence over council decisions. And candidates will also have an incentive to encourage turnout.

Just because someone lives on the other side of Warren, whichever side is the "other" side, does not mean that they are space aliens, not all of them, anyway. Why not be able to choose from among a dozen contenders for your support, instead of being limited to choosing two out of two, or two out of three?