Mount Pleasant board continues public hearing on voting rights violations
The Mount Pleasant town board continued its public hearing on Monday night following a report less than a week ago that found the town's at-large voting system is "racially polarized."
The report by a pair of independent experts hired by the town followed a complaint by five residents who claimed the town's current at-large system diluted the Hispanic vote. The report found that although there wasn't evidence of intentional attempts of voter suppression the current system violates New York's newly enacted John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
"Our community's diversity underscores the need for inclusive representation ensuring every voice is heard and considered," said one of the petitioners on the challenge to the town's voting law.
Town Hall was standing room only as nearly 20 residents addressed the board during the one-hour hearing. The room was decidedly more in favor of the town taking the challenge to court compared to last Thursday night's meeting.
"I'm Hispanic and because I voted for you guys, I have a voice. My vote does count as well," said a town resident while addressing the board.
Last Thursday, more than a dozen town residents spoke at the first public hearing as the board weighed its next steps. The room was fairly split with many people urging the town to avoid a costly and lengthy lawsuit while others encouraged the board to fight the group in court.
An attorney for the residents said the group is prepared to sue if the town doesn't show progress toward installing a new voting system.
Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said he was not able to speak about the issue because it could face a legal challenge but noted the town plans to make a decision on how to move forward after Thanksgiving.