This Article focuses on my work in Illinois to use the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to improve minority representation at the local level, but the themes and findings are applicable across the country because many states have growing minority populations in the suburbs just outside of large city centers. These minority populations tend to be much less segregated than the minority communities in the cities, and so it is more difficult to use Section 2 of the VRA (“Section 2”) to ensure both descriptive and substantive representation. I recommend the use of fair representation systems like ranked choice and cumulative voting (with multi-member districts) to improve minority representation in these decreasingly segregated areas. I introduce three case studies from Illinois to highlight the numerous burdens facing those that seek to reform their local government redistricting systems. I finish with some thoughts on how litigation and legislative advocacy may be used to promote fair representation systems in local government.
Ruth Greenwood, Fair Representation in Local Government, 5 Ind. J.L. & Soc. Equality 197 (2017).