New Yorkers’ Right to Vote is Under Attack

The 2024 elections will be some of the most critical in our lifetimes and, as election season approaches, a wave of efforts to diminish the political power of communities of color is surging.

The 2024 elections will be some of the most critical in our lifetimes and, as election season approaches, a wave of efforts to diminish the political power of communities of color is surging. This isn’t just happening in red states, it’s taking place right here in New York.

That’s why the NYCLU and our partners sued the Nassau County Legislature in Long Island for its redistricting plan, which violates the landmark New York Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting strength and political influence of Black, Latinx and Asian residents. Though residents of color make up over one-third of Nassau County’s eligible voters, the current map – which the Legislature drew behind closed doors – only creates four districts out of 19 where Black, Latinx, and Asian residents are a majority of eligible voters.

We delve into this lawsuit with two NYCLU lawyers who brought it. And we’ll also take a closer look at how the New York Voting Rights Act will help us fight against this attack on democracy.




[00:00:37] Simon: Welcome to Rights This Way, a podcast from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New York State. I’m Simon McCormack, senior staff writer at the NYCLU and your host for this podcast, which is focused on the civil rights and liberties issues that impact New Yorkers most.

[00:01:01] The 2024 elections will be some of the most critical in our lifetimes. And as election season approaches, a wave of efforts to diminish the political power of communities of color is surging. This isn’t just happening in red states. It’s taking place right here in New York. That’s why the NYCLU and our partners sued the Nassau County Legislature in Long Island for its redistricting plan which violates the landmark New York Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting strength and political influence of Black, Latin, and Asian residents. Though residents of color make up over one-third of Nassau County’s eligible voters, the current map, which the legislature drew behind closed doors, only creates four districts out of 19 where Black, Latin, and Asian residents are a majority of eligible voters.

[00:01:50] We’ll delve into the lawsuit with two NYCLU lawyers who brought it. And we’ll also take a closer look at how the New York Voting Rights Act will help us fight against this attack on democracy. We’ll get into all of this in just a moment. But first I’d like to ask you to please rate, review and subscribe to Rights This Way. It will help more people find this podcast.

[00:02:12] And now I’m joined by two guests. Perry Grossman is the director of the NYCLU’s Voting Rights Project, and Terry Ding is an NYCLU staff attorney. Perry, Terry, welcome to Rights This Way.

[00:02:26] Perry: Thank you for having us, Simon. Pleasure to be here. Yeah, nice to be here, Simon.

[00:02:29] Simon: Yes, thank you both. Very happy to have you. Perry, I’ll just start with you. We filed this lawsuit against Nassau County in February. Perry, take us through, just broad strokes, the basics of what this case is and why we took action here.

[00:02:46] Perry: Sure. So this is a case that involves a racial vote dilution challenge to the redistricting plan for the Nassau County Legislature. The Nassau County Legislature is the 19 member body that makes laws for Nassau County, which is a suburban New York City county. It’s very large. It’s over a million people and it is today very diverse and it’s become much more diverse over the past 20, 30 years.

[00:03:12] I believe 30 years ago for the 1990 census, it was about 83 percent non-Hispanic white and today it’s just over half non-Hispanic white. We’ve seen a real growth in the Black, Latino and Asian population and a real shrinking frankly in the white population. The problem is the diversity of the Nassau County Legislature does not reflect the diversity of the community.

[00:03:34] And, what we have is a long history of racially polarized voting in Nassau County, right? White people vote one way, people of color vote a different way. And that doesn’t make any sense.

[00:03:46] The conditions have not changed. The law, if anything, has become more protective of voters of color with the advent of the New York Voting Rights Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York. And so the map as we have it today has only four districts in which Black, Latino, and Asian voters constitute a majority of eligible voters, right? But they’re over a third of the county electorate. They should be a majority in at least six out of 19 districts. And then there is an Asian community, a large, compact Asian community in the Greater New Hyde Park area that has been split up into three districts.

[00:04:29] And that is denying that community an opportunity to wield any real political influence. We saw two Asian candidates run in two out of those three districts and they both lost in this last election. And that’s not, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. And so we have brought suit to make sure that Black, Latino and Asian voters have a fair shot at equitable representation in the Nassau County legislature. Now, we’ve also alleged that this map is a partisan gerrymander as well, and that is also true. This was a map that was adopted through an opaque, one-sided process. Almost entirely out of public view, without any input, any real input at least, from legislators and the minority party and with a lot of disregard for public comments to protect the interests of voters of color.

[00:05:22] We’ve brought our case on February 7th, and we are into discovery now and so hopefully we can get a new map, a fair map for the 2025 elections. Yeah.

[00:05:34] Simon: Terry, I will turn to you here because I guess I’m curious how the legislature was able to create districts that disenfranchise voters of color. I think maybe Perry sort of shined a light on this a bit when he was talking about three different districts in the Asian community. But can you talk about how that was accomplished?

[00:05:54] Terry: So what the legislature did here is what we call cracking and packing communities of color in Nassau. Cracking is where the creators of a redistricting plan take areas where there are, large, concentrated bodies of voters of color and split them up into different, multiple voting districts. And what that accomplishes is that in each of these districts, there are fewer voters of color relative to white voters. And that makes it much harder, if not sometimes impossible for voters of color to elect the candidates that they want to elect. Packing is where a redistricting plan unnecessarily crams a lot of voters of color into certain districts. So that those districts are overwhelmingly voters of color. And what that means is that there are fewer voters of color in the districts around them. And what that accomplishes is that, whereas in a properly drawn map, there may be enough voters of color to make up a majority in two districts or three districts now they’re just packed into one district where they have the chance to elect the candidates that they like.

[00:07:04] So cracking and packing both have the effect of diluting the voting strength of communities of color. And that’s what the map here does, right? So for example, as Perry already mentioned, it takes this large community of Asian voters in New Hyde Park and splits them up into not just two, but three districts, right?

[00:07:26] And in each district, that means there are fewer Asian voters. It also cracks several predominantly Black and Latino communities, so for example, in Lakeview, Inwood, and Freeport, and splits them up as well among predominantly white districts where their, votes are diluted. And at the same time, the map packs a lot of voters of color into two specific districts. So the end result of all this crack and packing is even though Black, Latino, and Asian voters make up more than one-third of the eligible voters in the county. We have only four districts out of 19 in this map where they actually form a majority.

[00:08:03] Simon: Okay. Excellent. That’s an excellent description. Thank you. What are the harms here? Because think some might say that, look, these maps were created by elected officials. they were elected to serve in the county legislature. They were elected to do, among other things very task that they’ve done. And here’s the map that they have produced and furthermore, what is the reason why there is particular focus and care here on, communities of color, right? Is it necessary to really design a map with communities of color in mind? Perry, I’ll turn to you for that.

[00:08:44] Perry: Thanks, Simon. Nassau County has a long and storied history of discrimination against communities of color, and so what we have here is the most highly segregated suburban county in the United States. And it is absolutely critical that those communities of color have real fair opportunities for representation to help continue the process of undoing that legacy of discrimination, right? Whether it’s going back to Klan rallies on Long Island in the 1920s or Levittown and racially restrictive covenants that kept people of color out of those parts of the county, whether it is Robert Moses designing the Meadowbrook Parkway with bridges that are too low to allow black and Puerto Rican people to get to to the beaches, right?

[00:09:34] This is a place that has been designed with racial residential segregation in mind, right? And so we need fair representation for communities of color to continue that process of undoing of undoing that legacy. Because what we have is increasing diversity in Long Island, but the persistence of segregation. And that segregation is not only residential. Certainly, if you look at, a racial heat map of Nassau County, you can tell exactly where people of color live and how tightly they’re packed in in a few places. But it also manifests in a lot of other areas as well. Whether it is something simple but important as how the values of homes are assessed for tax purposes, whether vendors of color, contractors of color are getting county business, right?

[00:10:21] All these different areas, who’s being hired by the county to, work county government or any number of services. These are all places where it’s important to have. Communities of color with a say in who represents them in the legislature. And that has been denied in this instance, right? The right to vote is the right that preserves all other rights. And so if you care about any policy area, you have to care about making sure that people have equitable access to the right to vote. And so here where equitable access to, the American dream, frankly, right, that suburban American dream so much of Nassau County is predicated on where that’s really been denied, it’s all the more important to make sure those communities that have been historically denied that opportunity, have a chance to gain some measure of political accountability for the folks who could really make a difference in helping them achieve that dream and undoing the discrimination of the past, which unfortunately continues on to today.

[00:11:23] Simon: And I mentioned in the intro that this redistricting plan was hatched under the cover of darkness. Can you talk about that, Terry, and the lack of transparency and what that actually looked like? What form that took?

[00:11:38] Terry: Yeah, I think the cover of darkness is an apt description here because there were a lot of issues with the process that led to this redistricting map being passed before we even get to the problems with the map itself. I can highlight a couple. First, this map pretty much came out of nowhere at a very late stage of the redistricting process without any warning to the public. So at the first stage of the redistricting process, everything was managed by a bipartisan commission. This commission spent many months drawing proposed maps and holding public hearings where folks in the community could get information about the maps that were being considered and provide input into the process.

[00:12:20] And at the end of this first stage, the commission submitted two maps to the legislature for its consideration. But, On February 9th of 2023, which was barely two weeks before the legislature ultimately voting on the redistricting plan, they suddenly revealed a brand new map that was totally different from the ones that had been proposed by the commission. The legislature gave no explanation until another week later why it had abruptly decided to discard the two commission maps and to come up with a, completely different one. And even then the legislature gave this sort of explanation only in written form and only to certain folks who had been able to come to a public hearing on the new map in person. The second process problem here is that the supposed justification the legislature provided for this new map was one sided, it was incoherent, and it was just incredibly incomplete. So again and again, the legislature tried to justify decisions it had made in this map by pointing to the work that had been done by a consultant that, the Republican legislatures had hired. They said things like, our consultant analyzed this map and found that there’s no need to draw any districts. to protect against diluting the vote of people of color. Our consultant looked at this map and found it’s completely fair, and it doesn’t advantage one political party over another. But the legislature refused to give the public anything beyond these very cherry picked conclusions. Even when members of the public and the democratic legislators asked to see this consultant’s work. The Republican legislators refused. So there was no way for the public to understand the basis for how this map was drawn.

[00:14:10] Simon: Terry, if I understand it correctly when other legislators or members of the public said can I see how these conclusions were drawn by this consultant? The Republican legislators just said, no.

[00:14:23] Terry: Yeah, they shut down the question. They said what we told you is what we can tell you. End of the story. And in fact later on, there was a the League of Women Voters in Nassau County made a formal request to the legislature for this consultant’s for the analysis he had done. Again, the legislature refused to disclose it, and so there ended up being a freedom of information law lawsuit filed to get these records. And it was only then, many months later, and in fact, even earlier, after the 2023 elections had been held under this new map, did the legislature finally produce some of these records to the public. Essentially what they said was, here’s a map we drew and showed you at the last minute. It’s totally great. It’s totally fair. Totally lawful. Just take our word for it.

[00:15:12] Simon: That sounds very sketchy.

[00:15:14] Perry: Yeah. And Simon, that’s a great description from Terry. Just to add a couple things is the legislature didn’t just throw out the commission maps. The legislature’s rules committee actually heard testimony on the two commission maps and voted to advance them to the floor. So when this brand new map came out on February 9th. What happened to the maps you just passed? The maps that you’re saying on February 16th, these maps are illegal. These maps don’t satisfy the law. Then where were you on January 17th, where you were passing these two maps, one on a 7-0 basis and the other on a 4-3 basis? That really raises some questions.

[00:15:54] If you look at the transcript, Terry captured it accurately. They really did just say no when the public asked them for records, but it’s even more jarring than that. One of the democratic legislators Carrie Solage, who’s one of the three legislators of color at the time, and, he asked the person who came to testify in support of the map for the legislature, which was their lawyer and map maker which is another interesting phenomenon.

[00:16:24] But he says, us Mr. Treddy’s conclusion. Can we see the analysis? And the response is I’m telling you his conclusion. Good. I get that. Can we see his analysis? I’m telling you his conclusion. Okay, but you’re relying on the analysis. Can we see the analysis? And he says, I’m just giving you his bottom line conclusion.

[00:16:45] And when exchange finally wraps up where legislator Solage, demands one more time to say, look, you’re relying on the analysis. We should see the analysis. The presiding officer of the legislature legislature, the only one. who purportedly saw anything, had any hand in drawing the maps says to him, it is what it is, and moves on the discussion completely, which is just a gobsmacking moment to see legislators in the public simply saying, you’re relying on this analysis, just show us the work.

[00:17:17] And he’s saying just pure power play stonewalling it really is a sad commentary on the way redistricting should work, these should be transparent processes, people should share this data freely, we should be able to look at a map and know why people made the choices they made, here we had to wait for a lawsuit to uncover all of these items.

[00:17:36] Simon: And what was it that they were hiding?

[00:17:40] Perry: What they were hiding was that their consultant’s work raises very serious questions about how they drew the conclusions that they drew, right? It looks for all purposes, like they should have drawn districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act. And there are real questions about whether this is a partisan gerrymander based solely on that work.

[00:18:00] There’s a lot of things that indicate that this is a partisan gerrymander. But even the work that was supposedly being put forward to claim that it’s not a partisan gerrymander looks like a partisan gerrymander. I think by hiding this stuff for as long as they did There was a real effort to try and delay any lawsuits that might be filed against the map.

[00:18:19] And, the other side tried to get the case dismissed on a grounds called latches, which is basically a fancy way of saying you shouldn’t be able to bring your lawsuit because you waited too long. They said you should have filed this case 24 hours after the map was passed.

[00:18:34] And because you didn’t, you’re out of luck. And luckily – not luckily, logically, I should say – the judge in this case didn’t buy that argument and certainly the courts recognize that voting cases especially vote dilution cases are very complicated. They take a lot of investigation.

[00:18:50] You want to make sure that you have a good understanding of what’s going on and deny the motion to dismiss. So, can see why they were trying to hide that stuff from the public. It certainly doesn’t look very good for them.

[00:19:02] Simon: And Perry, I know that, yeah, you mentioned the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York or the New York Voting Rights Act as we also call it. This is something that you and that we, the NYCLU played a lead role in passing the legislature, the state legislature passed it in 2022. Talk about what this law is and what it does.

[00:19:24] Perry: Sure. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York it is a comprehensive state voting rights act. It is built on the foundation set by the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. And, that is one of the absolute most effective civil rights laws in history, but we’ve learned a lot of things about voting rights enforcement, since 1965.

[00:19:49] And we’ve incorporated a lot of the lessons that we’ve learned in terms of building a statute that gets at more subtle and sophisticated forms of discrimination, certainly with the better data, with better redistricting software with all kinds of things, it has become easier than ever to perpetrate discrimination. And it’s really important that the tools for combating discrimination keep up with the means of perpetrating discrimination.

[00:20:19] And the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been persistently pared back by the federal courts. And not on a constitutional basis, but really just saying Congress didn’t intend to allow for this or Congress didn’t intend to allow for that.

[00:20:36] And so the New York state legislature with its plenary authority says look, we have a strong interest in vindicating our state right to vote. We have a strong interest in making sure that our elections are fair and representative and equitable. And so, we do intend to have a statute that gets at discrimination in a way that is efficient, that is effective, that saves taxpayers time and money, and is efficient for the courts. And so that’s really what the New York Voting Rights Act is. Now it is built also on the foundation of the California Voting Rights Act. I have to give a lot of credit there. That dates back to 2002. That was the first state Voting Rights Act, which really took a lot of these important lessons at the time, and said, we can improve upon how this cause of action works to make sure we can get at more forms of discrimination more effectively. New York, I believe, is the – California, Oregon, and Washington have their own Voting Rights Act, Virginia does – so we were the fifth. Connecticut has built on our model to become the sixth state to pass the Voting Rights Act, and there are now other states considering it as well, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, we’re hoping to see New Jersey pass their Voting Rights Act soon, Maryland, so it’s becoming a real movement, and I think we see a lot of, important acknowledgements that undergird, the passage of these new state voting rights acts, which is that equity in elections is really important.

[00:22:03] And that discrimination occurs in lots of places, including here in, what is a relatively diverse liberal sometimes even progressive state. But at the local government level, we see all kinds of racial vote dilution work all the time. Nassau County and the legislature here is just one example.

[00:22:23] There are other cases going on right now. It’s good to see that these important elections, these important local elections where there is so much important governing that takes place, whether it is, public safety, or transportation, or infrastructure, or contracting, or tax assessments.

[00:22:41] All these things. This happens at the local level. And we cannot lose sight of how important equity is in ensuring that there’s, effective representation and real political accountability for the entire diverse cross section of our electorate. That’s really, What the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act gets at. Now, I do want to say that the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act is not simply the cause of action that we’ve brought here in Nassau. It is a comprehensive state Voting Rights Act. It expands language assistance beyond the Federal Voting Rights Act. Very pleased to see that happen.

[00:23:17] It provides for the nation’s first state level preclearance program, which will be going into effect this year. And that is going to save a lot of litigation. That is going to make sure that instead of, voters of color having to suss out where discrimination is occurring, that when changes are being made to electoral systems, that it is incumbent upon covered jurisdictions to justify those changes and to make sure that they’re not adversely affecting voters on the basis of race.

[00:23:47] And that is ultimately a really healthy thing for our democracy. I think, frankly, most election officials in New York State really do want to do a great job. I think a lot of them serve the public really well. And I think to make equity a primary consideration in how they are developing polling place schemes and election hours and election materials, I think is ultimately going to make for an even more Effective election administration more participation, which is really what we want to see.

[00:24:19] There’s even more to the John R. Lewis voting rights act than that. We’re just dealing with one small sliver of it here. But very glad to see a past and very glad to see it be a model for other states.

[00:24:27] Simon: Yeah, absolutely. And, Terry, I want to get with you, we’ve just heard the, excellent, description of the broad strokes, of this legislation, but, can you kind of dig into the details here a bit and explain how we used law, the New York Voting Rights Act, to file our lawsuit or to or to help advance our lawsuit.

[00:24:48] Terry: For sure. This is exciting to talk about. Like Perry just said, the New York Voting Rights Act has a lot of cool voter protective features. We’ve used them in several ways. One is that we use it to give the Nassau County Legislature an opportunity to fix this unlawful map before we suit them. Under the law, we have to give the county send them a letter explaining that the map they adopted is unlawful and give them a chance to remedy the problems with it. Before we brought litigation, we did that here. We gave them plenty of time to respond and to work with us. But they refused, so we had to sue. Another really important way we used the New York Voting Rights Act was to use different methods to show that the map is discriminatory. Perry was mentioning earlier about how this law gives us tools to suss out particularly subtle or pernicious forms of vote dilution. And one of the ways it does that is it allows us to show that racial vote dilution exists in different ways.

[00:25:55] So one of those ways is by demonstrating that voting in Nassau County is racially polarized. What that basically means is that, people of color and white folks tend to vote for different candidates in elections, and that the white voters vote as a bloc, sufficiently to usually beat the candidates that the voters of color prefer. And that’s what we’ve done in this case. We’ve alleged and we’ve, shown that racially polarized voting exists and has long existed in Nassau. The New York Voting Rights Act also allows us to show racial vote dilation in another way, right? By, by showing that under the totality of circumstances the ability of voters of color to elect the candidates they prefer is impaired.

[00:26:39] And we also do that here, right? We point to a variety of circumstances in Nassau County that reflect racial discrimination generally, and discrimination in voting specifically. For example, we talk about how rare it is that candidates of color have been elected to public office in Nassau how political campaigns in Nassau have used racial appeals or overt or coded racial messaging in different ways.

[00:27:06] And, we’re not talking about, from the 50s or 60s, we’re talking about in the here and now.

[00:27:10] Perry: By the way, Terry, let me just jump in very quickly to say, we’re talking about racial appeals, right? Arguably the most famous racial appeal in a campaign in the past, 35, 40 years is the Willie Horton ad from the, the 1988 presidential election. And that was one where the governor, Dukakis was tagged with a with an ad that we used a picture of Black man who had been furloughed and apparently committed a crime and really tried to associate governor Dukakis with this particular individual, and his race was a prominent feature. This is the subject of so many ads in Nassau County. The return to Willie Horton style racial appeals here is just so jarring and so recent. And I think it’s important for folks to understand. That’s not okay that these kinds of racial appeals are, are divisive, but not only divisive, they are stoking the worst stereotypes and and hateful sentiments out of voters, and it is just so awful to, see them.

[00:28:15] The ads themselves are not illegal, but they’re certainly evidence of some very racialized politics taking place.

[00:28:21] Terry: Yeah, thanks, Perry. And I think maybe one last thing to talk about with the new voting rights act and the way we use in this case is to talk about the remedy, right? Like how you can fix unlawful maps. One cool thing that the law allows us to do is to tell the court that a proper map can contain coalition districts.

[00:28:46] And what that is that districts in which different groups of voters of color with similar preferences can be combined to form a majority so that together they can elect the representatives that they prefer. And that’s something that we see in Nassau County, right?

[00:29:02] Voters of color tend to vote very cohesively. Whether they’re, Black, Latino, or Asian, and so it makes sense that we can count them together to create districts where their voices will be heard, where they can elect fair representation.

[00:29:18] Simon: Excellent. Okay. Thank you for that rundown. I think that is really helpful and getting into the nuts and bolts of how we use that law and how this lawsuit is constructed. Perry, I want to go to you here. I think some listeners might think that voting disenfranchisement, they might pretty much only hear about it when it happens in, in red states, your Texases, your Floridas, et cetera.

[00:29:42] But that’s not true. As you’ve mentioned already here, but can you talk about our state’s history of voting disenfranchisement, of voting rights violations? I just want folks to know listening, like if you ever see Perry on the street, you should talk to him because he’ll be able to give you a much longer description than what he’s about to do now.

[00:30:00] Cause Perry I know you’re very well versed in, in this. But if you could just give us a little taste of what that history has been.

[00:30:07] Perry: Sure. I’m not sure that’s the best pitch for making friends, and I’ll talk your ear off about the –

[00:30:12] Simon: Only if you, only if they want you to.

[00:30:16] Perry: Let me say that voting rights violations are certainly prevalent in the South and the West and places that were formerly covered by Section 5. I do not want to minimize that when people have a sense that there are a large number of voting abuses taking place in those formerly covered jurisdictions, that is happening.

[00:30:37] And there was a big paper that just came out. It was published and discussed in the New York Times. There was a conference on it over the weekend about the racial turnout gap and how I think something on the order of like, but for Shelby County, And the effective dissolution of preclearance over the past decade, there would have been 9 million more voters of color, right?

[00:30:59] Like just a gigantic, like what a sea change in our elections that would have been. And those formerly covered states are mostly the former Confederacy also include Arizona, Alaska places where the votes of voters of color matter in some very close elections. And that’s real, But, of course, discrimination in voting happens in, in the North, and it happens in New York, and it’s happened a lot in New York government elections, that we haven’t seen more enforcement is not due to the fact that there isn’t more voting rights enforcement to do. It is simply a testament to how much work it is to bring these cases and to ferret out discrimination.

[00:31:39] Just to give you a few concrete examples, the town of Hempstead, which is in Nassau County, it is the largest town in the United States at about 800, 000 people. They were the subject of a successful section two case back in the 1990s and the village of Port Chester in Westchester County, frankly, a relatively blue village in a blue county had a voting rights case brought against it by the United States Department of Justice that was successful in the 2000s.

[00:32:09] Now even though Port Chester tends to vote Democratic in even year elections, those village elections were odd year elections, and we know that odd year elections disproportionately suppress the turnout of voters of color who do tend to vote Democratic in that particular area. We saw a lot of voter suppressive behaviors at play in diluting the political efficacy of voters in Port Chester. Of course, we litigated a racial vote dilution case in the east round post central school district. Over in Rockland County, one of the larger school districts in New York State, somewhere on the order of about 150, 000 residents. That case took several years. All of these cases can end up taking several years and frequently millions of dollars.

[00:32:53] It’s a lot of work to bring these cases. Three counties in New York City were actually covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. I believe they were triggered by the disproportionately low registration of Latino voters. That’s not an accident. New York had an English literacy test that was really directed at suppressing the votes of immigrant voters for a long time.

[00:33:18] And so it takes so much time and effort to undo the suppression of the political strength of those communities, and we’re still dealing with it today. I could list more and more cases. Certainly we’ve seen, boards of elections screwing around with early voting, or we’ve seen long lines in neighborhoods of color and the closures of polling places and things like that, right?

[00:33:44] There’s just no end to what we see, but really we’ve only been able to address through the litigation process a small fraction of them simply because of the amount of work involved. And so with the New York Voting Rights Act enables Is to bring more of those enforcement actions, but in a way that allows for jurisdictions to remedy the violation without resort to litigation in a way that provides what’s called a notice and safe harbor period, right?

[00:34:14] Terry mentioned before that before we filed a lawsuit in Nassau County, we sent them a letter. We sent them a letter on December 14th and we said, here’s what’s wrong with your map. Please let us know what you’re going to do to fix it. They sent us a letter back saying our map’s fine. We’re not going to do anything, but the law gives a jurisdiction the opportunity to fix it without incurring any more expenses.

[00:34:37] And so we complied with what we did there, but I hope other jurisdictions will take that opportunity. So they’re not incurring taxpayer expense to defend discriminatory systems and are instead taking the opportunity to make collaborative changes with communities of color to improve their election systems, to improve turnout, local government elections, to make that turnout more equitable and ultimately to make government more accountable, more responsive and to deliver better policy outcomes for everybody.

[00:35:06] One of things that I just cannot tout enough as a feature of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York is the way that it invites opportunities for collaboration and voluntary remediation because we don’t want to take money out of the public coffers to defend discrimination, we want to see those jurisdictions put their money, put their effort into better policy, better elections and better representation generally.

[00:35:34] Simon: Excellent. And as we wrap up here Terry what does our lawsuit, which I’m hoping to, to Perry’s point, doesn’t take years and millions of dollars to conclude, but what, what does our lawsuit ask the court to do to remedy the situation in Nassau County?

[00:35:51] Terry: We’re asking the court to replace the current discriminatory map with one that complies with the law. And that respects the voices of Black, Latino, and Asian voters in Nassau. What that means is a map in which there are at least six districts where a majority of the eligible voter population is made up of Black, Latino, and or Asian folks.

[00:36:13] So that they will have the ability to elect the candidates that they want representing them. Plus, one district that keeps together this large, compact Asian community in the New Hyde Park area. So that even if these Asian residents don’t make up an outright majority of the voting population. They’ll still have the opportunity to influence how those elections go. And this is a map that would provide fair representation to communities of color in Nassau and go some way to ensuring that these communities can elect the legislators who hear their voices and are responsive to their needs.

[00:36:49] Simon: And with that Terry, Perry, thank you both so much for being on Rights This Way.

[00:36:55] Perry: Truly our pleasure, Simon.

[00:36:56] Terry: Yeah, thanks Simon.