Prison-based gerrymandering violates the constitutional principle of “One Person, One Vote.” The Supreme Court requires districts to be based on equal population in order to give each resident the same access to government. But a longstanding flaw in the Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location, even though they can’t vote and aren’t a part of the surrounding community.
When legislators claim people incarcerated in their districts are legitimate constituents, they award people who live close to the prison more of a say in government than everybody else.
Impact at the state level:
Without using prison populations as padding, 7 Oklahoma House districts drawn after the 2000 Census did not meet constitutional population requirements.
For example, each House district in Oklahoma should have 34,165 residents. District 22 (Murray, Garvin, Pontotoc, McClain and Cleveland counties), however, has only 31,530 actual residents. This gives every 93 residents of District 22 as much say over state affairs as 100 people elsewhere in the state.
Crediting all of Oklahoma’s incarcerated people to a few locations, far from home, enhances the political clout of the people who live near prisons, while diluting voting power of all other Oklahomans.
To read this report in its entirety visit the Prisoners Of The Census.org