1993 2335 2336 university of pennsylvania law review

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1993] 2335
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2336 UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 141:2311 III. CONGRESS: THE CHAMPION OF MINORITY INTERESTS A. The At-Large Nature of the Presidential Election Versus the Effect of Districting in Congressional Elections 1. The Presidential Election Viewed as the Nation's Largest At-Large Election Every elected official in the United States is put in office by the voters of the district she is to represent, but "the Presidential slate is the only one elected nationwide." 11 1 To put it differently, the presi- dency represents the ultimate "at-large" election. Although some might argue that the electoral college is the body that the Constitu- tion has entrusted with choosing the president, 112 this claim is more theoretical than factual. Voters are actually "voting for a group of ... Electors pledged to vote for the listed candi- dates." 11 Therefore, "a president in fact, though not in law, [is] popularly elected by the people." 114 Having noted that the president is an official elected at-large, an examination of why officials elected at-large are less responsive to minority interests, as opposed to those elected in district-based elections, is in order. The best way to examine this phenomenon is to look at the effect of at-large versus district-based elections on minority influence in local politics. 2. Why District-Based, As Opposed to At-Large Elections, Are More Representative of Minorities For minorities who seek to have a voice in national politics, the presidential election is not the most effective means of transmitting their voice to Washington. This is not due to any intentional discrimination, but instead to the nature of the at-large voting system. The following is an example: Suppose ... that black voters make up only one-fourth of the electorate in a city employing at-large elections, and they are willing to vote as a bloc for council candidates who seem genuinely willing to address the particular needs of the black population; the 111 LISTON, supra note 53, at 38. 112 See U.S. CONsT. art. II, § 1, &I. 2, amended by U.S. CONST. amend. XII. 113 LISTON, supra note 53, at 37-38. 114 MEZEY, supra note 27, at 53.
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CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS great majority of whites, by contrast, will not vote for a black candidate. The black voters' candidates cannot win. 115 Minority voters' candidates cannot win because their votes are diluted or canceled out by the votes of the majority. The situation that minorities find themselves in when it comes to presidential elections is exactly the same. According to the latest census figures, African-Americans currently make up 12% of the U.S. population and whites constitute 75% (the entire minority composition of the country is 25% of the population). 1 1 6 If people vote in racial blocs (as will be shown shortly), the particular interests, concerns, and needs of African-Americans and other minorities will not normally be a top priority of a president elected at-large. Why is this so?
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