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Weighted Voting in New York

Bernard Grofman and Howard Scarrow
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Vol. 6, No. 2 (May, 1981), pp. 287-304
Published by: Washington University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/439650
Page Count: 18
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Weighted Voting in New York
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Abstract

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's "one-man, one-vote" decisions, many county governments in the State of New York adopted weighted voting for the County Board of Supervisors as a device to preserve existing political boundaries. New York's highest court, in an unusual and important decision in 1967, approved this method of apportionment, but required counties to use a game theoretic measure of legislator power, the Banzhaf index, as the criterion for measuring the fairness of these schemes. This paper identifies the problems which have arisen under this unique form of apportionment (New York counties are the only known examples of governments using it), viz., (1) domination by a small number of units, (2) difficulties experienced by the courts in understanding and applying the power index, (3) the redundancy of that index, (4) anomalies of not applying the index to multimember systems, and (5) the failure to recognize the many roles of a legislator.

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