How the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act Ruling Affects New York

State Senator John Sampson's district. The Republican-controlled Senate drew the seat to   include then-Democratic Senate candidate Lew Fidler's base from a neighboring district seat.
State Senator John Sampson’s district was gerrymandered in its southeastern corner to absorb a top-tier candidate for the neighboring seat.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which defined which jurisdictions needed federal clearance for voting law changes before implementation. Because three New York counties–Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx–fell under Section 4’s formula, today’s ruling effectively removes the pre-clearance standard from any voting changes that affect the city or state.

Put in simpler terms, changes to New York’s election law will no longer face the potential obstacle of automatic federal intervention. For example, any lawsuit against the recent decision to shift this year’s run-off election date back a week and allow the city to return to levered voting machines would be unlikely to succeed before Election Day on September 10, redistricting attorney Jeff Wice told Politicker this morning.

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Camara: Redistricting Map ‘Egregious Assault on the Voting Rights Act’

karim camara assembly Camara: Redistricting Map Egregious Assault on the Voting Rights Act
Karim Camara (Photo: assembly.state.ny.us)

Assemblyman Karim Camara, who heads New York State’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, announced his caucus’ opposition to the legislative redistricting plan and suggested many legislators will vote to send the plan back to the drawing board today.

Mr. Camara argued the State Senate’s plan violates the Voting Rights Act because it splits minority communities in Long Island, as well as other places, where they could be kept whole.

“We expect it to come to a vote today and we expect … it will have significant opposition to it. But our concern isn’t whether this bill passes or fails,” Mr. Camara told Fred Dicker on his radio show this morning. “Our concern is to use every legal recourse available, including the courts, to challenge the lines, which would include a strong possibility of a lawsuit by the caucus against the lines [regardless of] whatever happens today.”

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