The Alliance is launching Vote Port Chester!,a grassroots campaign for the adoption of a fair and democratic, district voting system for Port Chester village elections.
Since village government impacts everything from which pothole gets filled to the availability of affordable housing and good jobs, it’s important that we work together to win the best system for electing village Trustees.
History: Why Port Chester Must Choose a New Voting System
For most of its history, Port Chester was governed by a Board of Trustees that was elected by an at-large voting system, meaning that all voters throughout the village could cast a vote for each Trustee position. The elections were staggered meaning that not all of the Trustees were elected at the same time.
A 2006 U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit found that the at-large, staggered voting system was a violation of US law under the Voting Rights Act and ordered it to be eliminated. The Court ruled that the system denied the Latino population equal opportunity to participate in the political process by watering-down Latino votes and involving racist calls for white voters to defeat the candidates backed by Latinos.
The Court and Port Chester agreed to implement a new voting system, a variation of the at-large system known as cumulative voting, for a ten-year period to fix this legal violation. The ten-year period for this agreement included three elections for the Board of Trustees and expired in 2016. A new voting method must be adopted by 2019.
Why We Believe Districts are the Most Fair Solution
We believe a district-based voting system will work better in Port Chester than an at-large system. Districts are the most common system across the state and country and a tried-and-true way to fix a violation of the Voting Rights Act, which is what our village must do.
In a district system, the village is geographically divided into districts with roughly equal populations of voting age citizens. Voters in each district elect an individual to represent them on the Board of Trustees. We believe a district voting system is fairer and will:
- Empower residents and increase voter participation especially among Latinos and other minorities, who have not seen their issues made the focus of previous elections, as well as women and young people who have not been properly represented over the years.
- Make trustees more fully accountable to the residents because each of them will have to answer directly to voters in his or her district.
- Require the trustees to be more responsive to the needs of the entire village. Most of the current trustees live in one affluent neighborhood in the northernmost part of the village. Even if the trustees mean well, they can easily overlook concerns that are particular to your neighborhood like trash pickup, potholes, parking, etc.
The Vote Port Chester! campaign seeks to empower Port Chester residents to make their voices heard on this important issue. Our goal is to lay the groundwork for electing a representative majority on the Board of Trustees that will work for all residents.