University of Maryland

Recently, I came across this interesting post by our NCPCA president Mark Shroder, who brought the important issue of redistricting, that the City has recently went through. (Btw, Mark wrote another post later to clarify the matter a little further).

I’m glad Mark brought the issue to everyone. There really is a disparity between the residents of District 1 and the other  3 districts, when it comes to voter representation.

The main reason for this disparity can be traced to the number of residents in these districts actually voting in council elections. In the last few elections, district 1 voted in large numbers when compared to those in other 3 districts. The ratio is as high as 3 to 1.

What this mean, as Mark rightly pointed out, district 1 voters are far less powerful than that of the voters in other 3 districts, even though the 4 districts are equal number of residents registered to vote.

So why this has been happening? Mainly, the other 3 districts constitute a large number of student population, who seldom go to the voting booth.

So how do we address this unbalance? disparity?

One way to fix this, is by dividing the district boundaries in a way that would truly represent the areas based on folks who actually go to voting booth. This may make district 1 smaller, but the disparity in representation will be gone.

However, this design is based on the assumption that students are not active participants in this electoral process, even though they do “reside” in the city.

I think, there could be another way. And that is by making our students realize that it’s their lack of participation that is causing this disparity.

True we can keep this student-resident debate going as long as wish, but I think getting our students involved in City’s electoral process more involved will be a win-win situation.

Students can be residents’ partners when improving our communities and neighborhoods in the city, thus getting them involved in City’s civic and neighborhood matters can only bring fruits.