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Following Nassau Legislature’s Approval of Divisive Map, Community and Civil Rights Groups Demand Mangano Veto (3-5-13)

Following Nassau Legislature’s Approval of Divisive Map, Community and Civil Rights Groups Demand Mangano Veto

At final deadline for a vote, non-partisan coalition, community groups, civil rights leaders packed Legislative chambers to denounce law that divides communities and dilutes minority voting power.

MINEOLA, NY — Chants of “Shame!” and “Veto!” rang through the Nassau Legislature this evening when, after a final seven hours of public testimony today and a twelve hour hearing last week, the Republican-controlled legislature passed their gerrymandered redistricting map along party lines.

The Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition provided testimony and joined with civic and civil rights leaders from all corners of the county to denounce the proposed redistricting map. Despite cosmetic changes released one week ago, after enormous public pressure in a public hearing that lasted until 1 AM, the map approved today draws from the same baseline of partisan gerrymandering and dilution of the voting rights of communities of color.

“Despite hundreds of public testimonies unanimously condemning this gerrymandered map, the Republican majority of the Legislature has decided to put party ahead of county and vote it into law” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. “We will continue to work with the Nassau County United Redistricting Coalition to hold the Legislature accountable for this conspiracy against the voters.”

“The Nassau County Legislature ignored the testimony of thousands of residents and adopted a politically gerrymandered map drawn explicitly to hoard political power,” said Jason Starr, Director of the Nassau Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.  “The Constitution, and more importantly, the people of Nassau County, demand better.”

Nancy Rosenthalco-chair of the Nassau County chapter of the League of Women Voters, asked, “The League of Women Voters of Nassau County urged the legislature to vote no on this cosmetically changed but partisan map, but then what? Given the charter deadline of today, March 5th, what real options were before us and before this legislature given this legislature has allowed this process to end up at this point?”

“We are disappointed but not surprised that the County Legislature passed this gerrymandered map along party lines today,” said Daniel Altschuler, Coordinator of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. “We see the growing communities of color in Nassau County as a source of strength and vibrancy; today’s cynical effort to rig elections shows that the majority in the legislature, meanwhile, fear these communities’ power. We have made our voices heard in the last weeks of community protest, but the map remains fundamentally flawed and the process is broken. County Executive Mangano must veto the map and demand a truly non-partisan process for all future redistricting.”

Lucia Gomez, Executive Director of La Fuente, said, “The actions taken by the Republican majority are truly shameful.  They used taxpayer dollars to disguise their original intent to disenfranchise and discriminate against minority voters.  It is overwhelmingly apparent that they intended to use this redistricting process to secure a super-majority and circumvent the democratic process of elections and voter will.”

LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s counsel Jackson Chin warned, “Today the will of a bare majority of the Legislature has adopted a universally detested political map that ensures non-competitive districts and maximizes political gridlock. Veto it! We saw the pretend advisory commission process lay the foundation for this unseemly power grab.” He added, “The public will demand charter reform in the redistricting process to respect growing minority communities and to limit hyper-partisan incumbency protection.”

“I love my community of Elmont, but today the Nassau Legislature took another step toward making life harder for Elmont, and making it harder for all of us to live on Long Island,” said Mimi Pierre Johnson, of New York Communities for Change, after the vote. “When partisan politicians try to connect the Elmont and the Five towns by a thread, diluting my representation and fracturing our school districts, they have failed in public service. Today they served the party, not the people.”

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