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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Redistricting of NYC City Council Districts Back To Square One?

The currently proposed redistricting of the New York City City Council's 51 districts may be scrapped, according to a letter from the chairman of the New York City Districting Commission.

The letter, from Commission chairman (and former Manhattan United States Attorney) Benito Romano to City Council President Christine Quinn, states that withdrawal by the Commission of the currently proposed redistricting plan would allow for the public to have additional input on redistricting.  Presumably, such input would result in revisions to the current redistricting lines.

One consequence of the continued delays in adopting new district boundaries is that many candidates or potential candidates will be unable to determine in which district they live in or wish to run in, or to size up potential competition.  Many potential candidates who have registered with the New York City Campaign Finance Board have not specified the city councilmanic districts in which they intend to run, and instead have opted to declare themselves as candidates for an undetermined office and undetermined district.  Continued delays may affect fundraising, particularly for insurgent candidates.  Potentially, such effects could prompt an additional wave of complaints to the Department of Justice, which still has to "pre-clear" election law changes and district changes affecting New York City because most of the city is still a "covered district" under the federal Voting Rights Act.  These complaints, or federal constitutional litigation, could allege racial or ethnic discrimination and use the Voting Rights Act as the basis for the complaint.

Stay tuned.

Eric Dixon is a corporate lawyer who handles complex investigations and political matters for businesses, candidates and other individuals, and practices in both New York and New Jersey.

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