The Equal Protection Clause and the Right to Vote

The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also requires that state and local governments "make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts ... as nearly of equal population as is practicable." Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 577, 12 L. Ed. 2d 506, 84 S. Ct. 1362 (1964). Article I, 1 and 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution also guarantee equal protection. Our Supreme Court has explained that the protection of the right to vote provided by Article I, 1 and 26 is no greater than the protection provided by the Equal Protection Clause. In Erfer v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 568 Pa. 128, 138-139, 794 A.2d 325, 332 (2002) the Supreme Court held as follows: The Court reject Petitioners' arguments that we should declare that the right to vote guaranteed by our Commonwealth's Constitution provides broader protections than those guaranteed by the federal Equal Protection Clause. The Court come to this conclusion for two reasons. First, to the extent that Petitioner's gerrymandering claim is predicated on the equal protection guarantee contained in Pa. Const. art. 1, 1 and 26, this court has previously determined that this right is coterminous with its federal counterpart. Love v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 528 Pa. 320, 597 A.2d 1137 (1991). Second, we reject Petitioners' claim that the Pennsylvania Constitution's free and equal elections clause provides further protection to the right to vote than does the Equal Protection Clause. Petitioners provide us with no persuasive argument as to why we should, at this juncture, interpret our constitution in such a fashion that the right to vote is more expansive than the guarantee found in the federal constitution.