Hundreds of Nassau County residents, including several minorities, railed against proposed changes to legislative district lines at Monday's Nassau County Legislature session.
Several residents voiced a variation of the same objection, accusing the representatives of political gerrymandering and expediting a process which Democrats say previously took place over a two-year period.
“This legislature has only been presented with one option by a county attorney who wasn’t elected,” said Henry Boitel, of Rockville Centre. “There are probably 100 different plans that would satisfy the redistricting.”
Calling the process “madness,” and the hearing a “farce,” Minority Leader Diane Yatauro, D-Glen Cove, said, "for this administration, this folly of rushing ahead to draw a map to be used for this year’s election is in direct conflagration of direct principals of our charter is business as usual."
Approximately 576,000 voters, or 44 percent of the county’s population, would see their district shift under the plan.
“I still find it difficult to understand how this could be really looked at and analyzed in a matter of (weeks),” Franchesca Carlo of Plainview said. “The census didn’t take a matter of (weeks) and to be brought forward and to be acted upon so quickly it baffles many people’s minds.”
The county charter requires that redistricting occur every 10 years and action must be taken within six months of census data being released. If approved, the new lines would take effect immediately. The new lines combine several former districts, while creating a new minority district on the western border of the county stretching from Inwood to Elmont with no incumbent. An additional set of lines may be drawn up again for 2013.
A bipartisan commission to consider redistricting would be formed by March 5, 2012. That commission would be charged with formulating a plan or plans for redrawing the lines by January 2013, with a final plan adopted by March 5, 2013, in time for the November 2013 elections.
Legislative boundaries were previously redrawn from 2001-2003, following release of the 2000 census.
“This census is quite different,” Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said. “The changes in populations in Nassau County required us to act.”
While he was not directed to consider incumbency, Ciampoli said that he kept the “core” of each legislator’s district intact, allowing legislators to maintain their home base. Under the county charter, if a legislator’s residence was redistricted outside their own legislative area, they would have one year to move into that new area.
Under the old map, the population of the second legislative district rose in excess of 22.7 percent of the median. Ciampoli said that the new lines represent a deviation of about 6.5 percent across all districts.
Stephen J. Bronner contributed reporting.