Newsday: Civil rights groups: Nassau legislative map violates state law

Image for Newsday: Civil rights groups: Nassau legislative map violates state law
The final redistricting hearing of the Nassau County Legislature on Feb. 27 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

By Candice Ferrette

Nassau County's redrawn legislative map, adopted in February with significant changes to some districts, violates state law by diluting the influence of Black, Latino and Asian voters, according to a new challenge from civil rights advocates.

Attorneys for the New York Civil Liberties Union, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund say the map defies the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in June 2022.

In a Dec. 14 letter to the county and its 19-member legislature, the groups said litigation would commence after 50 days unless the map is changed.
Two lawsuits have been filed since the legislature adopted the map on Feb. 27.

The Nassau County Democratic Committee and 20 registered voters challenged it in July, alleging the map creates districts favoring Republican candidates, limits competition and dilutes the voting power of communities of color.

New York Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset, filed suit in August, alleging the legislature violated state open records law in failing to disclose the data and analysis used to create the new boundaries.

Perry Grossman, director of the voting rights project at NYCLU, said Nassau's voters of color "deserve a map that respects their voting rights, and the county should take the opportunity to spare taxpayers the expense of litigation and fix this map before we have to go to court."

Mary Studdert, spokeswoman for the legislature's Republican Majority caucus, said the maps "incorporated feedback from the public’s testimony from over a dozen public hearings, while meeting all legal and constitutional standards, uniting communities of interest and ensuring equal representation for the residents of Nassau County.”

Studdert did not answer questions on whether legislators are considering changes.

Nassau in 2022 began a series of countywide community meetings to reapportion its legislative districts as part of the decennial redistricting process.

A panel comprised of five Republicans, five Democrats and a nonvoting Republican chairman sent two maps to the legislature because it could not agree on one.

Nassau's Republican Majority proposed its own map, adopted by the county legislature along party lines. Republicans hold a 12-7 majority.

Democratic Minority Leader-elect Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said Wednesday: "Our position remains that any reasonable review by the courts will result in this map being struck down as a violation of the voting rights of Nassau County residents."


Read the article here: