Port Chester elections in judge's hands as closing arguments end

Closing arguments ended Monday in a case to delay Port Chester elections amid claims of voter discrimination against Hispanics.

The defense attorney for the village told the court a change in the voting system would be detrimental to the Hispanic population. According to the attorney, Latinos are poised to take over much of the village under the current system. He argued designating one district for the Hispanic vote would cut their power in the political process. However, lawyers for the federal government said Port Chester is violating the Voting Rights Act. They claim only 22 percent of the village's Hispanic population is currently old enough to vote.

Cesar Ruiz, who lost his bid for trustee in 2001 despite having the support of Hispanics, wants the March 20 elections delayed. The judge is expected to rule Friday, March 2 whether voters will cast ballots on time to elect trustees and a mayor. Meanwhile, the trial over the village's "at-large" voting system could begin in April.

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