Washington, D.C. – This Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Evenwel v. Abbott. The plaintiffs in this case argue that representative districts should have equivalent numbers of voters, not an equivalent population. This move would impact the representation of millions of people across the country, and over one million in the state of Connecticut.
If the plaintiffs were to win in this case, Connecticut Congressional districts could be shrunk by just over 220,000 people each. In the General Assembly, each Senate district could shrink by 29,000 and each House District could shrink by 7,000 people. All told, 1.1 million people, a third of the state’s population, would no longer be counted. Simply put, this offends the very notion of representative democracy that our country has embraced since its founding.
Should the plaintiffs win, minorities, particularly Hispanics, and youth under the age of 18 would find their representative power severely curtailed. Legislative power would shift dramatically in the direction of those who already wield an inordinate amount of power at the expense of the youngest and neediest in our society.
Governor Dan Malloy said:
“One of the fundamental tenets of our democracy is the principle of equal representation, and the Evenwel case has the potential to deny that basic right to nearly one third of Connecticut’s residents. If the plaintiffs prevail, much of Connecticut’s population would literally have no voice in Congress. This ruling could truly set us back in extraordinary ways.”
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said:
“This case could effectively silence millions in our state, giving residents no voice in government and stripping a fundamental right of representation from minority communities and many others. Representation is a core value of this country and I sincerely hope that the Court will uphold this basic tenet of our democracy.”
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said:
“I strongly believe that we should strive to ensure that everyone has equal representation in all levels of government. In Connecticut we have worked very hard to help enfranchise and include more people in our democracy. Instead, this case could further disenfranchise those people who should be encouraged to exercise their right to vote, not be shut out.”
Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto said:
“The Republican Party is engaged in a concerted disenfranchisement efforts for their own political gain. In recent years, Republicans have passed restrictive voter ID laws in states across the country – which disproportionately impact the elderly, low income people and people of color. They have made it more difficult to conduct voter registration drives. And they have actively made it more difficult to register to vote. The Evenwel case is no exception, and if the Court were to rule with Sue Evenwel, some of the most vulnerable people in our society – including children and immigrants here legally – would effectively have no voice in the halls of power.”
Despite concerted efforts from Republicans across the country to disenfranchise voters, Connecticut – under Governor Malloy and Democratic leadership – has bucked the trend, taking real steps to enhance citizens’ right to vote by instituting online voter registration and election day registration in addition to other important election reforms.