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United States v. Village of Port Chester

Brennan Center represented Fair Vote in providing remedy to a Section 2 challenge against the Village of Port Chester.

Published: April 23, 2011

In December 2006, the Department of Justice filed a complaint against the Village of Port Chester alleging that Port Chester’s at-large system of electing its board of trustees dilutes the voting strength of the Village’s Hispanic citizens in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On January 17, 2008, the court issued a decision finding that the Village’s at-large system did indeed violate the Voting Rights Act and requested remedial plans from the parties.

The Defendants, the Village of Port Chester proposed cumulative voting as a remedy, which allows citizens to cast multiple votes for a given candidate for a given seat. The Brennan Center, representing FairVote as amicus curiae, while supporting cumulative voting as a remedy, also proposed an alternative system known as “choice voting.” In choice voting, voters maximize their vote’s effectiveness by ranking candidates.

On November 6, 2009, the court accepted the Defendant’s remedy and ordered the implementation of at-large elections with cumulative voting. The new system was a success – on June 16, 2010 the Village of Port Chester elected it’s first Latino to the Board of Trustees. Even though almost half of the population of Port Chester is Hispanic, no Latino has ever been elected to the Board before.

On April 21, 2011, Judge Paul Gardephe of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York ruled that the Village of Port Chester did not preserve its right to appeal when it agreed to implement the cumulative voting system.