Judge to decide on new Port Chester voting system

A new voting plan is under review in Port Chester after the federal government ruled the village?s current system is unfair to Hispanics.

The U.S. Justice Department and attorneys for Port Chester submitted plans for a new system in federal court Friday.

Caesar Ruiz, who brought the discrimination case against the village, wants Port Chester to be divided into six new voting districts. Candidates would have to live in the district to be elected. Ruiz ran for board of trustees in 2001 and lost. He filed suit asserting the voting system was discriminatory.

A federal court agreed. The judge ruled the system violated the Voting Rights Act by making it difficult for Latinos to have their voices heard in village elections. Hispanics make up more than half the Port Chester population but have never held an elected office there.

Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla (D) wants to maintain a cumulative voting system in which all six trustee positions would be up for a vote each election. Voters would be allowed to cast six votes any way they like.

A federal judge is expected to make a decision on a new voting plan in three week.

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