A three-judge panel has approved the new Congressional redistricting map for New York state in Favors v. Cuomo. This new Congressional Map will now determine the election districts for the upcoming 2012 Congressional elections.
“The new Congressional redistricting map is a significant achievement in protecting the voting rights of the growing Asian American voting population in New York State and providing them equal representation,” said Jerry Vattamala, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
AALDEF has been at the forefront of advocating for the Asian American community in the Congressional redistricting process, including drafting and submitting its own redistricting proposal, the Unity Map, in conjunction with a multiracial coalition of civil rights groups, as well as filing a complaint-in-intervention on behalf of Asian American voters in Favors v. Cuomo. (For a summary of AALDEF’s recent advocacy in the Congressional redistricting process, see below.)
“We have fought for the voting rights of Asian Americans throughout every step of the Congressional redistricting process, and we are pleased that the new map takes into account our advocacy,” said Vattamala.
Asian American Representation Under the New Congressional Redistricting Map
Under the new Congressional map, District 6 (Asian VAP 37.9% ) corresponds to AALDEF’s Unity Map by retaining the Asian American community in Queens (in Flushing/Bayside, Elmhurst and Briarwood/Jamaica Hills) within one district. After the incumbent representative for the District 6 Congressional seat announced last week that he will not run, District 6 is now an open congressional seat for the 2012 elections.
“There is now an open Congressional seat in Queens with a significant Asian American population, which provides a tremendous opportunity for Asian Americans in New York to have their interests represented in Congress,” said Vattamala.
Because of the significant Asian American population, poll sites in Queens (where District 6 is located) are required under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act to provide voting language assistance and bilingual ballots in Chinese, Korean, and, since the 2010 Census, Asian Indian.
“Given the expected Asian American turnout for the primary and general election, it is imperative that language assistance be provided in the designated languages,” said Vattamala.
Apart from District 6, the following Congressional districts likewise adhere to AALDEF’s recommendations with regard to keeping Asian American communities together:
- District 7 (Asian VAP 19.8%) likewise adheres to the Unity Map by keeping the community of interest in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s Sunset Park within one district.
- District 14 (Asian VAP 16.1%) retains the Asian American community of interest in Jackson Heights and Woodside, Queens within one district.
- District 5 (Asian VAP 11.5%) retains the Asian American community of interest in Richmond Hill/South Ozone Park within one district.
Timeline: AALDEF’s Recent Advocacy in the Congressional Redistricting Process
December 21, 2011 — AALDEF, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP), and the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) of Medgar Evers College submit their Congressional Unity Map proposal for protecting the voting rights of Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans to the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR).
December 28, 2011 — AALDEF and pro bono counsel Kaye Scholer LLP file a complaint-in-intervention on behalf of four Asian American voters in the congressional redistricting case Favors v. Cuomo.
February 13, 2012 – District judge rules in favor of AALDEF’s complaint-in-intervention in Favors v. Cuomo.
February 29, 2012 – AALDEF submits its Asian American Neighborhood Boundaries, Communities of Interest Surveys for New York City, Submission Report, and Congressional Unity Map proposal to Federal Magistrate Judge Mann, who is charged with drawing the Congressional redistricting map.
March 2, 2012 – AALDEF submits commentary on alternate Congressional redistricting proposals submitted to Federal Court.
March 5, 2012 – AALDEF testifies at first public hearing in Favors v. Cuomo, urging the court to take into account Asian American neighborhood boundaries in New York City when drawing new district lines.
March 5, 2012 – Federal Magistrate Judge Mann releases the court’s proposed Congressional redistricting plan.
March 15, 2012 – AALDEF testifies at second public hearing in Favors v. Cuomo on proposed Congressional redistricting plan.
March 19, 2012 – Three judge panel in Favors v. Cuomo releases new Congressional map.
Percentages are from the Department of Justice on Voting Age Population (VAP).