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Another court balks at voiding July poll

Kyodo

The Sapporo High Court ruled Friday that the disparity in the weight of votes in July’s Upper House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality” but dismissed a demand that the result in the Hokkaido race be nullified.

It was the third ruling among 14 similar lawsuits filed with high courts across Japan by groups of lawyers who say disparities of up to 4.77-fold in the July 21 Upper House election violate the equal-protection clause under the Constitution, and thus the results should be invalidated.

The plaintiffs said they will appeal the Sapporo ruling to the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the Hiroshima High Court ruled the disparity was “in a state of unconstitutionality” a week after its Okayama branch had ruled that the results of the Upper House election in Okayama Prefecture should be invalidated due to an unconstitutional gap in the weight of votes.

The disparity in the number of eligible voters per Upper House member stood at 4.77-fold between Hokkaido, which has more voters than any other Upper House district, and Tottori, which has the fewest. It translates into a ratio of 1-to-0.21 in the vote value between the two districts.

In October 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the maximum fivefold disparity in the weight of votes in the 2010 Upper House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”