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Beyond Borders

A blog about immigration in the New York region

Judge gives Port Chester a new voting system: What does it mean for Latinos?


Big news for Port Chester today. The village now has an official solution to fix its voting rights violation —  and replace an election system  that discriminated against Hispanics.

U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson this morning allowed Port Chester to go ahead with its chosen remedy, a system called cumulative voting. Speaking from the bench in White Plains, he told attorneys from the village and the Justice Department that he was obligated to favor Port Chester’s plan so long as it fixed the voting rights violation in accordance with the law.

This makes for a very interesting situation in Port Chester. The village board elections will look unlike any other in New York state. Cumulative voting will give voters six votes apiece, for six open seats. In a twist, voters will be able to “plump” their votes by putting all six toward the same candidate. This, Port Chester attorneys successfully argued, will allow Latinos to finally see the candidate of their choice make it onto the village board.

Let’s address one common misconception of the bat: This doesn’t technically mean that Hispanics should be able to elect a Hispanic trustee. It means that whichever candidate they rally behind will have a chance of being elected. Under the old system, the judge found, Latinos tended to band together for a certain candidate only to see that person defeated in the villagewide vote.

It will take a lot of work to teach voters the new system — and how to teach minority groups how to strategize under it. For this reason the judge declined to allow a March election, the usual time frame, offering June instead. This will be the first village trustee election in four years.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 12:38 pm by Leah Rae. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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