Public News Service: Controversial Voter Redistricting Plan Faces Critical Deadline

Controversial Voter Redistricting Plan Faces Critical Deadline

March 4, 2013 [Original article here]

NEW YORK - It's the third try at new voting-district boundaries for much of Long Island, but good government groups would hardly call the results so far the "charm." The proposed district boundaries face a Tuesday morning deadline and crucial vote in Nassau County. 

The problem with the plan, according to Nancy Rosenthal, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, is that proposed boundaries have been drawn along partisan lines that she said increase the power of a Republican majority, and dilute the voting power of opposition parties and minorities.

"What's clearly happening is the legislators, the makers of the map, are picking their voters," she said, "and the voters are no longer being allowed to pick their representatives."

Republicans say the map is a fair reflection of demographic shifts, but county lawmakers postponed a vote on the second version of their district map last week after about 200 citizens turned out to oppose the plan. Rosenthal said the third version of the map makes minor improvements, but fails to protect the voting rights of all Nassau Country residents. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Nassau County Legislature.

Rosenthal says the current plan "packs" Democrats and communities of color into just seven of the County's 19 voting districts - and "cracks" the remaining districts, limiting the voting power of the opposition party.

"'Packing' and 'cracking' - they've long been used to gerrymander voting districts, and it's happening now in Nassau County," she said.

It's part of a national trend, she said, noting that while these practices are not illegal, they were clearly not what the founding fathers had in mind.

"Are they in the best interest of the people? Absolutely not. But it's what's happening and it takes good government groups to uphold the standards of democracy that our government officials should be held to," she said.

Rosenthal says groups like Common Cause and other members of the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition are working to raise awareness of this issue.

More information is available at www.nassauunitedredistricting.org.

Copyright © 2013 Public News Service


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