Evenwel v. Abbott

Evenwel v. Abbott (One Person, One Vote)

Status: Arguments on Dec. 8, 2015; Decided on April 4, 2016

In this case, the Court decided if eligible voting population numbers can be substituted for total population numbers when voting districts are determined.

Back in 2013, the Texas legislature drafted new districts for electing the 31 members of the state senate. The lawmakers proceeded on a theory of equal representation by actual population, with just an 8.04 percent difference between the largest and the smallest districts. But the Texas legislature based its headcount on the total population of each district and not the numbers of people eligible to vote in each district. Due to an imbalance in the voting age population in the districts, the difference between the largest and the smallest districts rose to as much as 49 percent, when it came to who could actually cast votes.

In a decision written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court said that Texas can determine its voting districts based on total population numbers, and isn’t required to use a system based on numbers related to registered voters. The decision, however, didn’t preclude the ability of a state to establish a representation system based on registered voters, if it so desired.

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