AALDEF Files Complaint on Behalf of Asian American Voters in New York Redistricting Case
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), together with pro bono counsel Kaye Scholer LLP, filed a Complaint-In-Intervention in Favors v. Cuomo on behalf of four Asian American voters urging the Brooklyn Federal Court to adopt a redistricting plan that provides Asian Americans in New York with equal political representation.
Over the past decade, the Asian American population in New York has grown dramatically to almost 1.5 million, or 7.3% of the state. In New York City alone, the Asian American population increased 32% to over one million. In Queens, the Asian American population grew 300 times faster than the rest of the borough, to 500,000 residents. “The current political maps — drawn a decade ago – do not take into account this growth, leaving Asian Americans severely underrepresented,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, Director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program. “The current district lines are invalid under the U.S. Constitution and state law because Asian Americans’ votes count less than the votes of other New Yorkers.”
However, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) and the New York State Legislature, the two entities charged with redrawing district lines, have not released new maps in time for the 2012 primaries. AALDEF’s complaint requests that an independent party or “Special Master” be appointed to redraw districts immediately.
“The Asian American community must be represented in the NY redistricting process because its political power is particularly weakened by the current district lines,” said Jerry Vattamala, Staff Attorney at AALDEF’s Democracy Program. “Asian Americans voters constitute a majority only in one NY state assembly district and not a single state senate or Congressional district. No Asian American has ever been elected to the NY state senate or the U.S. Congress.”
Earlier this year, AALDEF, along with Latino Justice/PRLDEF, National Institute for Latino Policy, and the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, submitted the Unity Map, which proposes district lines for New York City state assembly, state senate, and Congressional districts. Under the Unity Map, which complies with the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, and all other laws, there are four Asian American majority assembly districts and one Asian American majority senate district.