Queens Chronicle: Queens zeroes in on redistricting

Image for Queens Chronicle: Queens zeroes in on redistricting
Queens residents took their opportunity last Thursday to testify about problems with the borough’s Assembly map, among other legislative maps, seen here laid over the borough’s community districts. CREDIT: NYC PLANNING SCREENSHOT VIA QUEENS CHRONICLE

By Max Parrott/Queens Chronicle

Queens has had its first hearing in the post-Census process of redrawing congressional and state legislative lines under a new commission ushered in by voters back in 2014.

An online forum last Thursday gave constituents of the World’s Borough a three-minute opportunity to expose gerrymandering and propose alternatives to the current formation of legislative districts. The hearing was the Queens leg of a virtual “listening tour” that the nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission is holding to gather public testimony about legislative districts across the state.

One section of the Voting Rights Act that is aimed at insulating the electoral rights of racial groups and other protected classes gives courts the power, in some areas, to require the creation of majority-minority districts.

Jerry Vattamala, a lawyer and the director of the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund’s Democracy Program, called the section on majority-minority districts a crucial tool for advocates.

“So if you can illustrate that to them, that’s very powerful,” he told the Chronicle.