Since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act eliminated the most blatant forms of voter discrimination, subversive tactics meant to water down the influence of minority voters in local elections have become the hot new trend among the anti-access crowd, and the latest ploy is the use of at-large voting districts in local elections. This concept takes the opposite approach of gerrymandering: rather than packing everyone into a single, pre-determined district, it makes the entire electorate a large single district. Voters get to vote on multiple representatives, and the candidates who garner a plurality of votes win. This gives voting blocs undue influence over who represents them city-wide because their coordinated efforts now affect the entire city. A 2017 lawsuit in North Carolina gives us a depressing example of this: white voters in Jones County voted as a bloc, preventing black candidates from winning a plurality, resulting in an entirely white board of commissioners in a county whose population is one-third black. Even if math isn’t your strong-suit, it’s easy to recognize that doesn’t add up. This is an ongoing issue, from Alabama to California, but it isn’t a new one: the 1965 VRA made at-large districts illegal at the federal & state levels---but it requires renewed vigilance to identify and eliminate at-large districts if we truly aspire to democratic elections.

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