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Letter: Concerned About Haste in Redrawing County’s Legislative Districts

The League of Women Voters of Nassau County, a non-partisan organization, which neither supports nor opposes any candidate or political party, is concerned about the County Legislature’s haste in re-drawing the legislative district lines.  In doing this, the Legislature is not adhering to its own County Charter, subsection 113, which requires an advisory redistricting commission to be established to reapportion the county legislative districts based on the federal census.

This commission was never established. Instead, new district lines have been drawn and are scheduled to be presented to the Legislature for a vote on May 16. The League strongly believes that the public is being ill-served by this rush to get new district lines established in time for the 2011 election.

We believe that governmental actions should be transparent; the public should know by whom the lines were drawn. This information has not been made available, though we know that the district lines were not drawn by a duly appointed commission.

Redistricting is far too important to be done in a rushed manner because of the impact it will have on all county residents for the next 10 years. Since the last district lines were drawn for the 2003 election, and these lines are required to be drawn every 10 years, it stands to reason that the new lines should be drawn for the 2013 election. What’s the rush?

League believes that an advisory commission should be established, as directed by the charter. This commission should draw the district lines in accordance with the Federal Voting Rights Act, make the districts compact and contiguous, and be respectful of political subdivisions (such as towns and and villages) and communities of interest.

If the new districts are put into effect for the 2011 election, it would probably be necessary to re-do them again for the 2013 election, to meet the requirement to redistrict every 10 years. This, as well as the potential legal actions that could follow, would incur the burden of additional costs on our already fiscally strapped county.   

We urge the County Legislature to keep the current district lines for the 2011 election, appoint a commission as directed by the charter, and allow them to take the necessary time to deliberate and do it right.

Rachael Krinsky
President
League of Women Voters of Nassau County