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Religious leaders joined good government groups this week to call on the Nassau County Legislature to change the way it redraws its district lines.
The group of clergy members led a rally in New Hyde Park on Wednesday to let legislative leaders know that a wide range of voters want to take redistricting out of politicians’ hands, and allow the process to be controlled by a balanced commission of independent volunteers.
The legislature’s GOP majority said last week that the timing wasn’t right to consider charter revisions that would reform the process before it must begin again in 2021.
“The Bible commands that we keep ‘just weights and measures’ and that we take a census by collecting one half-shekel per person so that each person counts equally, rich or poor,” Rabbi Judy Cohen-Rosenberg, of the Community Reform Temple in Westbury, said in a statement released after the rally. “Does this not lead to a belief that in our government we deserve equal weight for each person’s voice and vote?”
Activists claim that the current redistricting process dilutes the voting power of minority communities, something that lawmakers have denied. After the current legislative maps were approved early last year, critics claimed that they only created competitive races in three of 19 districts.
Clergy members directed a letter to legislative leaders in which they say that “we believe that democracy’s promises are moral commitments.
“In our county’s partisan redistricting process, political parties can choose the voters they want, dividing our communities and marginalizing the voice of the people,” the letter reads. “Instead of pleading for the widow, partisans on both sides often dilute her voice and ignore her altogether.”
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) has said that she remains willing to listen to proposals from the good government activists.