Hempstead Town map injunction denied

The Hempstead Town board listens to speakers during The Hempstead Town board listens to speakers during redistricting public hearing. (April 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Aisha Al-Muslim

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A federal judge Tuesday denied a request for a preliminary injunction from four Hempstead residents seeking to block the town from implementing its new council district map before the election petitioning process begins next month.

The plaintiffs, all Democrats, contend the redistricting map adopted April 9 by the Republican-led town board violates the voting rights of African-Americans and Hispanics, dilutes their voting power and fails to create a second majority-minority district. The lawsuit was filed two weeks later against the town, the state Board of Elections, and the Nassau County Board of Elections and its two commissioners.

Justice Leonard D. Wexler said the plaintiffs failed to show that by creating a second majority-minority district, a minority candidate would be elected. They also failed to prove Hispanics and African-Americans vote as cohesive groups.

"It is impossible to determine the candidate choice of Hispanic voters," said Wexler, who last month denied a request for a temporary restraining order.

The new map, which will set voting districts for America's largest township for the next decade, maintains one majority-minority district, in which minorities are a majority of the population. The Democratic and League of Women Voters versions had two such districts.

"The case hasn't been dismissed," said Manhattan lawyer Gary Carlton, representing the plaintiffs pro bono. "We will still challenge the maps. The maps are in effect."

Town spokesman Michael Deery said, "The town stands by its previous statement on the redistricting issue."

The plaintiffs -- Dennis Jones of Hempstead Village, Milagros Vicente of North Valley Stream, and Hermione Mimi Pierre Johnson and Monique Hardial, both of Elmont -- testified at the nearly six-hour hearing in Central Islip.

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