For Immediate Release Redistricting Coalition Presents Non-Partisan Map to the Nassau Legislature

Written by Susan Lerner on January 14, 2013


For Immediate Release:

Contact:

January 14, 2013

Susan Lerner, Common Cause NY, 212-691-6421

Redistricting Coalition Presents Non-Partisan Map to the Nassau Legislature

Slams partisan gerrymandering and dysfunction in county government

MINEOLA, NY -- In the face of shameless partisanship and self-dealing, the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition presented its non-partisan redistricting plan to the Nassau County Legislature. The Coalition demanded that the Legislature put an end to partisan dysfunction and move forward with a fair, transparent process in the best interest of the County and all its residents. The legislature must vote to approve new maps for Nassau County by March 5th.

View the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition's plan here: www.nassauunitedredistricting.org/coalition-plan/

"Nassau County voters are being systematically disenfranchised as pawns in the partisan power grab which has become the redistricting process. The Coalition Plan is being presented to the Legislature as a viable alternative to demonstrate there are no practical obstacles to creating a fair plan," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

"By listening to Nassau County residents and applying fair redistricting principles our Coalition was able to draft a preliminary map in this important decennial decision on governance and democracy," said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice. "We urge the County Legislature to restore trust and conduct an open process to ensure full community engagement for a new districting plan before its vote in March 2013."

"The League of Women Voters of Nassau County was very disappointed in the advisory commission. They did have hearings around the county, but didn't seem to listen to the comments. In addition the meeting the maps were presented on January 3 with no discussion amongst the commission members. We hope that the legislature will give serious consideration to our map and do what is in the best interests of the residents of Nassau County not their political parties."

"This Temporary Districting Advisory Commission has really been a waste of time, other than to provide the public with another example of how elected officials and their appointees waste tax payer dollars," said Lucia Gomez of La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project. "Every resident of Nassau should be disappointed with the TDAC's proposed maps and support our Coalition's proposal, and ask their legislator to do the same."

"Nassau legislators must stop their shameful efforts to divide communities of color" said Daniel Altschuler of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. "Common-sense redistricting is essential for a healthy democracy, but unfortunately the new map proposed by County Republicans seems designed to dilute the power of Nassau's growing African-American, Latino, and immigrant communities. Immigrants and communities of color are a growing part of Nassau and deserve fair representation, not the gerrymandering we see in the proposed maps."

"Fair and equal representation is the cornerstone of American democracy, and improper redistricting can result in unequal representation in voting districts, dilution of minority votes, and fractured communities," said Jason Starr, Director of the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "The Nassau County Legislature has the responsibility to protect public confidence by conducting an open and transparent process to develop a new districting plan."

"I live in Elmont and I'm sick and tired of seeing partisan officials trying to silence my community and other communities of color across Nassau County," said Mimi Pierre Johnson from New York Communities for Change and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. "All it takes is one look at the maps proposed by county Republicans to see that the new districts don't make any sense for our communities. These maps were designed by politicians to help other politicians, and dilute the power of my neighbors and myself. We demand fair maps, districts that make sense, and equal representation!"

Coalition Demands for the County Legislature

- The Legislature must release its proposed redistricting plan to the public by January 25, 2013, one month in advance of the next scheduled public legislative session.

- At least four public hearings must be held on the proposal during the following two weeks and the public's comments shall be considered.

- The Legislature must give serious consideration to the non-partisan proposal of the Nassau United Redistricting Coalition and allow an opportunity for the coalition to present the plan to the Legislature in further detail.

- The Legislature's redistricting plans must be made publicly available according to the practices of other New York redistricting processes (e.g. LATFOR at the state level, the NYC Districting Commission). This entails the release of PDF maps, demographic spreadsheets, and block equivalency files via the County website and an opportunity for the public to comment on any maps and submit testimony electronically.

- The Legislature's redistricting plans must be accompanied by written descriptions of the districts and explanations of the criteria and reasoning behind their shapes.

- The final plan the Legislature will vote on must be released to the public one week in advance of the final vote. The public must be allowed an opportunity to comment on the final proposed plan before the Legislature's vote.

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition will be holding an informational webinar presenting the Coalition Plan and comparing it to the plans proposed by the Temporary Districting Advisory Commission on Thursday, January 17 at 10:30am.

The Coalition will also be hosting a series of public forums in key locations around the county in late January and February, dates to be announced on our website at www.nassauunitedredistricting.org

Background

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition is a non-partisan civic engagement coalition, which supports inclusive, balanced and fair Nassau County Legislative Districting, in the drawing of legislative lines to adjust for changes in population. The coalition includes: Common Cause/NY, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, and the New York Civil Liberties Union of Nassau County.

The Nassau United Reform Redistricting Plan was drawn beginning with the existing districts and adjusting according to objective redistricting criteria:

1. Equal Population -- follow the principle of "one person, one vote" in the US Constitution by drawing districts and exercising good faith to create districts with a population deviation of no more than +/- 5% from the ideal average value.

2. Voting Rights Act/Fair Representation for Racial and Language Minorities - ensure that districts maintain the rights of minority (racial and linguistic) groups to have a fair opportunity to elect their preferred candidates and to engage in the democratic process

3. Respect for Political Subdivisions -- district lines should respect the borders of towns and villages whenever possible, keeping residents with common interest together in a single district and helping facilitate a stronger relationship between town and village officials and their county-level representatives.

4. Respect for Communities of Interest -- generally defined as a local population with shared socio-economic characteristics, associations, and institutions that would benefit from unified representation by a single legislator. Communities of interest in Nassau include areas like the Five Towns, Elmont-Valley Stream, the Massapequas, and the Great Neck peninsula.

5. Compactness and Contiguity

6. Barring Uses of Partisanship and Political Data -- follow an "incumbent blind" process and one that does not utilize any political data (percentages and actual data related to voter registration, voters' membership data by political parties, election races, turnout rates by precinct, etc.) or seek to advantage any particular political party in drawing the lines

Office: Common Cause New York

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

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