Prisoners Can't Vote, But They Can Be Redistricted

Courts are still wrestling with questions about citizenship and representation.

Residents of Ward Six.

Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Prisoners can be counted in population totals for determining a voting district, even though they can’t cast ballots in the place where they’re being held. That's what an appeals court relying on a U.S. Supreme Court decision from last term has said -- even though that case involved noncitizens who are fully members of the community, not inmates who don’t contribute to the city or use local services. Wednesday’s decision casts some doubt on the theory of virtual representation that the justices used, and raises deep issues about the connection between voting and being represented.

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