THE SOURCE: “The Strategic Use of Prisons in Partisan Gerrymandering” by Jason P. Kelly, in Legislative Studies Quarterly, Feb. 2012.
Other than elections, no battles are more bitterly fought in American politics than the redistricting fights that occur after each decennial U.S. Census. Many officials are willing to resort to any trick in the book to gain an advantage for their party. Jason P. Kelly, a postdoctoral research associate at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, has uncovered a new gimmick: prisoner swaps.
In most states, prisoners are barred from voting. But the Census still counts them (almost always at their prison location, not their last home address), and they are included in the head counts of electoral districts. A shrewd gerrymanderer would put prisons in electorally safe districts, freeing up some of his party’s supporters in those districts to be drawn into competitive areas where their votes could help tip the balance.
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