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Constitution Day essay winner proposes a ban on gerrymandering 

Constitution Day Essay Contest. From left: James Acker, distinguished teaching professor, School of Criminal Justice; honorable mention winners Jayden Fritz-Berrios, Joanna Ogrodnik and Jacob Weissenburg; essay contest winner Mark Marinkovic; and Martha Asselin, director of the Center for Leadership and Service. Not pictured are honorable mention winners Fiona Butler, Jamila Desir and Ankeith llliparambil. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 3, 2019) — If Mark Marinkovic were in charge of amending the U.S. Constitution, the practice of partisan gerrymandering would be banned.

Marinkovic, a sophomore who plans to double major in political science and philosophy, won a Constitution Day essay contest, taking up the challenge to propose and defend a 28th amendment. The contest was open to all UAlbany students and co-sponsored by the School of Criminal Justice (SCJ) and the Center for Leadership and Service.

James Acker, a distinguished teaching professor in SCJ, noted that the 47 essays submitted offer “hope that civic education – attention to the fundamental values and principles that are vital to participatory government – is not a dead letter.”

In an op-ed in the Albany Times Union, Acker wrote that nine of the proposed amendments focused on granting equal rights to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or country of origin. Seven writers proposed eliminating the Electoral College, and five proposed opening up the office of president to naturalized citizens.

In his winning essay, Marinkovic said that gerrymandering “systemically marginalizes and effectively silences millions of voters across the country, Democrat or Republican.” Banning the practice via constitutional amendment, he said, would be “the most comprehensive way to rid the nation of this stain on democracy.”

Acker noted in his op-ed that the framers of the Constitution left room for improving the document through the amendment process, trusting in future generations to ensure fair and effective governance.

“A commitment to civic education, within and far beyond the confines of school and college classrooms, remains critical to equip an informed citizenry to carry out the important business of democratic self-government,” he said.

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