Ramapo Redistricting Lawsuit

BY MICHAEL CAHILL

Residents in the Town of Ramapo brought a lawsuit against the State of New York last week alleging that new redistricting in the town is religiously biased and violates the state constitution.

The main argument of the lawsuit cities article III, section 5 of the Constitution of New York State which reads, “No Town, except a Town having more than a ration of apportionment and one half over, and no block in a city inclosed by streets or public ways, shall be divided in the formation of assembly districts…”

The ideal population size of a New York assembly district is 129,187, and according to 2010 census figures Ramapo has 126,595 residents. So despite being smaller than ideal for a single assembly district, Ramapo is divided into three separate ones.

No other town in New York State with a population below the ideal number is divided into more than one district.

Currently the Town of Ramapo has three assembly districts, Districts 94, 95, and 96. District 95 currently represents the heavily Chasidic Jewish villages of Kaser and New Square.

The new redistricting would still leave Ramapo with three assembly districts but now the villages of Kaser and New Square would have their own districts.

The suit argues that the existing and proposed assembly lines violate the “one person, one vote” provision of the Equal Protection Claus Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It also alleges that as a result of failing to assign a single assembly district to the Town of Ramapo, the voting power of residents has been diminished without due process of law.

The residents in the case are seeking to have the proposed assembly district lines overturned.