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Redistricting “Repair” Tonight in Nassau County

Photo: Supporters of repairing the local voting map will hold a "Voter's First" rally tonight in Lakeview on Long Island. Credit: LICET
Photo: Supporters of repairing the local voting map will hold a "Voter's First" rally tonight in Lakeview on Long Island. Credit: LICET
January 23, 2014

NEW YORK - A "reasonable chance at fair representation" - that will be the call tonight at a "Voter's First" rally in Nassau County. Lucia Gomez, executive director of La Fuente, said recent polling showed that the vast majority of local voters favor a switch to a nonpartisan system of drawing party lines in Nassau County.

Many local residents believe their votes do not count for much under the current system, she said.

"If these districts are not set up properly, then there's a segment of our population that will be totally ignored by our legislature," Gomez stated. "That never should happen, right? That's a total violation of the law and our constitutional rights."

The "Voter's First" rally takes place tonight at 6:30 p.m. in Lakeview. The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition also plans to release a new report on Monday that is expected to recommend revisions to the County Charter.

Susan Lerner, executive director, Common Cause New York, said now is the best time to amend the charter, because the main problem with the current voting map is still very fresh in the minds of local voters.

"Legislators are getting to choose their voters instead of voters choosing their legislators. The first thing that needs to be done is it needs to be a truly independent process, so the residents have a reasonable chance at fair representation," Lerner said.

Gomez noted that badly drawn voting districts mean voters get no action on programs they need, such as funding for youth services in more urban parts of the county.

"We specifically saw that, with the funding that went toward youth programs. Last year there was a lot of partisan bickering around the kinds of money that would be held hostage," Gomez said.

More than 80 percent of Nassau County residents favor switching to a nonpartisan method of drawing district maps, according to a Long Island Civic Engagement Table (LICET) survey taken in late 2013.

A new report on amending the charter is to be issued at noon on Monday in Mineola. The report will be available at www.nassauunitedredistricting.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY