One Person, One Vote Required

1963

Building on its earlier decision in Baker v. Carr and reversing South v. Peters, the U.S. Supreme Court in Gray v. Sanders finds that Georgia’s “county unit” voting system is unconstitutional. Relying in part on the 17th Amendment’s language that senators are to be chosen “by the people,” a voter in the Senate primary election challenges the system in which small rural districts are treated relatively the same as larger urban districts.

Because each rural voter would have the same impact as several urban voters, the rural voters had a much larger impact on the outcome of the election than urban voters. Writing for the majority of the Court, Justice William O. Douglas finds that this policy violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.