Judge: Port Chester must change election system

After a year of litigation, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Port Chester?s election system violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The judge ruled the village must change the system so minorities have a better chance to get elected. The case was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and resident Cesar Ruiz, who ran for the board of trustees in 2001. Ruiz lost and claimed the system discriminated against him.

Board members are elected to at-large seats, rather than local districts that represent specific constituents. The DOJ complaint says the system denies the Hispanic population an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.

Ruiz?s lawyer is calling the decision a major victory for Port Chester?s Hispanic community. Randolph McLaughlin says the decision comes at a fitting time, a day after the Martin Luther King holiday.

It is unclear how the decision will affect the March election, but the village will have three weeks to present new plans.

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