By: Leo Jobsis-Rossignol
Since the United States Supreme Court first found multi-member districts to be a method of vote dilution in violation of the Voting Rights Act, they have become a less and less popular way of electing legislators. Today, only ten states allow the use of multi-member districts, and only for state legislature elections. Most frequently, these are restricted to state Houses of Representatives in a bicameral legislature, and even there, relatively few members are elected from them. However, they have not gone out of vogue everywhere, and their presence can have a profound impact.
One place still highly reliant on multi-member district-elected representatives is the U.S. Virgin Islands. Made up of just the tiny islands of St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, and surrounding cays, drawing 15 districts for all of the territorial senators sitting in its unicameral legislature would be difficult, and given how freely inhabitants can move from place to place in the small space, likely futile. Instead, the territory has opted for just two districts, St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix, with an additional at-large senator elected across the islands. Each district elects 7 senators.