“Unpacking” the Problem: The Need to Broaden the Scope of Vote Dilution Claims Under Section 2 of the VRA

By Paul A. Riley, Jr.

There are two common types of gerrymandering: “cracking”— splitting a cohesive voting bloc across districts, and “packing”—over-consolidating a cohesive voting bloc into a single district. These types of gerrymandering can be partisan, but they can also be along racial lines. As this Note demonstrates, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has a remedy for cracking, but not for packing.

Through statistical analyses, this Note demonstrates the statistically significant relationship between race and the Cook Political Report’s “Partisan Voting Index,” as well as between race and voter turnout in the 2020 general and 2018 midterm elections. In particular, the statistical analyses reveal how race and PVI can serve as the pillars of a novel, three-factor test that would make vote-packing claims cognizable under Section 2 of the VRA. Finally, this Note proposes a framework that would broaden the definition of “vote dilution” under Section 2 of the VRA and would provide a remedy for minority voters who are packed into districts.

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