As a state senator, I took an oath to represent all of my constituents to the best of my ability. I know that politics can be divisive, and not everyone will agree with my ideas or what I think are the best solutions to keep our community moving forward. But I have a responsibility to serve all of my constituents.
Unfortunately, a case the U.S. Supreme Court heard last week threatens many of the people I serve in the State House. The result in Evenwel v. Abbott could allow states to leave out large segments of their populations when drawing legislative districts simply because they cannot currently vote. This means that children under 18, legal permanent residents and other taxpayers in our state would be invisible for purposes of representation in the Legislature.
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To not count the very people we are here to serve when drawing legislative districts would be a disservice to our constituents.
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Can you imagine if we pretended that children didn’t exist when figuring out how many textbooks to buy or how many school buses to purchase or how many schoolteachers and librarians we should hire? Neither can I, because that makes zero sense.
If the court rules in favor of Evenwel, the effects on democracy in South Carolina would be disastrous. An estimated 1 million young people in our state could be disenfranchised because they aren’t yet 18 — including more than 330,000 African-Americans and 85,000 Hispanics.
Every single person in our state deserves equal representation and deserves to be counted in our democracy. Even those who can’t vote are still members of our community, and our actions as policymakers affect their lives. Any effort to undermine this notion weakens our democracy, and I will oppose it. The ramifications of this case threaten to exclude far too many of my constituents, rendering their voices silent.
We must remain as vigilant as ever in the face of such egregious attacks on our democracy. We’ve come too far to sit back silently and let conservative activists with an extreme agenda erase our progress.
Sen. Gerald Malloy