Legislation seeking to end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering in Rhode Island has once again been brought forward. When it comes to drawing new voting districts, any individuals incarcerated at the ACI in Cranston on the day the Census worker comes through are recorded as living there, including individuals awaiting trial or serving misdemeanor sentences who retain the right to vote, but are treated for voting purposes as residents of the community from where they came. As a result, Cranston is overrepresented in the General Assembly, while the districts from where the prisoners hail are underrepresented. Under the current plan, approximately 15% of House District 20 is comprised of voters who cannot vote in Cranston. The legislation, as the ACLU and the Prison Policy Initiative testified, would rectify this disparity and require all prisoners to be counted, for voting purposes only, at their last known address. Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but failed to move in the House. No further action was taken on this legislation.
Prison Gerrymandering (H 5309, S 344)
Representative Anastasia Williams and Senator Harold Metts