At-Large Elections and Vote Dilution: An Empirical Study

The 1982 amendments to the Act, however, have remained a subject of controversy. Opponents of the Act misperceive municipal at-large electoral systems, believing they provide as much minority representation as single-member district systems. This Note addresses that misperception with data showing that at large schemes provide significantly less minority representation than other schemes. The various standards used by federal courts in reviewing the constitutionality of at-large election systems are outlined in Part I. Part II sets forth an analysis of Congress’s response to the judicial ambivalence toward at-large elections- the 1982 amendments to section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Part III presents empirical data illustrating that, generally, blacks are significantly more underrepresented on city councils in cities with at-large election systems than in cities with district systems. Part IV discusses the implications of the Note’s empirical findings in light of the congressional amendments to the Voting Rights Act. The Note concludes that the congressional reimposition of the “results” standard for proving at-large election systems discriminatory was a necessary step forward because municipal at-large election systems remain systematically underrepresentative of significant population groups.