The Next Reappointment Revolution

42 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017 Last revised: 27 Nov 2018

See all articles by Ashira Pelman Ostrow

Ashira Pelman Ostrow

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: April 27, 2017


In the 1960’s, the Supreme Court famously imposed the one person, one vote requirement on federal, state and local legislatures. The doctrine triggered a reapportionment revolution that rapidly resolved the problem of malapportioned districts. Within just a few years, legislatures across the nation were reapportioned to equalize the population between districts. Sadly, however, the national commitment to equal-population districts has led directly to the current crisis of political gerrymandering. The boundaries of equal-population districts must be redrawn every ten years to maintain population equality. Even with rigid adherence to population requirements, district boundaries are easily manipulated to secure incumbent seats and advance partisan interests. Redistricting is rightly condemned for allowing politicians to pick their voters, rather than the other way around. At the local level, however, one group of municipalities avoids redistricting by incorporating weighted voting into their apportionment plans. While scholars have studied other variations in municipal apportionment, they have failed to examine the nuances of weighted voting apportionment plans. This Article begins to fill that void, demonstrating that weighted voting dramatically increases the options for legislative apportionment and arguing that weighted voting could serve as a model for the next reapportionment revolution. As this Article explains, weighted voting eliminates the need for strict population equality. It can be used alone to preserve representation for whole political units, such as towns on the county board. It can also be incorporated into multimember districts, equal-population districts, or both, to equalize the mathematic weight of each vote across unequal population districts. Weighted voting thus enables the formation of districts that reflect priorities other than population equality, including districts that correspond to political subdivisions and prevent gerrymandering.

Keywords: One Person One Vote, Weighted Voting, Voting, Gerrymandering, Local Elections, Local Legislatures, Counties

JEL Classification: K19, K30

Suggested Citation

Ostrow, Ashira Pelman, The Next Reappointment Revolution (April 27, 2017). Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 93, 2018, Forthcoming, Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-02, Available at SSRN: or

Ashira Pelman Ostrow (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

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