3.06.2007

Port Chester Election Halted: At-Large System Violates Latino Voting Rights

U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson ruled to cancel the upcoming March 2007 elections for the Port Chester, New York, because its at-large electoral system diluted the voting strength of the village's Latino citizens.

According to the complaint, while half of Port Chester's residents and 28% of Port Chester's citizens of voting age are Latino, none has ever been elected to Port Chester's Village Board of Trustees. Additionally, while 68% of the Port Chester-Rye School District's students are Latino, no Latino has ever been elected to the school board.

During fact-finding, Judge Robinson refused to hear testimony about why voters have failed to support Latino candidates for the school board. The decision was a blow to the village, which argued that Latino candidates have not been successful in past school board elections because they were not qualified.

Judge Robinson reasoned that "[t]he question is not why it was racially polarized. The question is was it racially polarized." Judge Robinson found that the system allows for white bloc voting, which inhibits Latinos' ability to elect their preferred candidate.