Connect with Us Facebook Twitter
The final version of New York City's revampe district maps have made their way to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has a little under two months to evaluate their compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Despite some uproar from some local groups, the maps were finalized by the city’s Districting Commission in February and passed through the City Council in March without a vote.
The DOJ now has until May 24 to make sure that the maps don’t impair voter accessibility and protections for minority voters in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn, all of which are protected under Section 5 of 1965’s VRA.
The public can make comments during the 60-day evaluation period. Barring any violations of the VRA, the federal government's approval would mean the new maps would go into effect before the upcoming primary, which is expected to take place in September.
The Districting Commission already held three rounds of public hearings in each borough and heard testimony from more 300 New Yorkers before voting to approve the maps in February by a vote of 14 to 1.
The commission responsible for drawing up the latest redistricting maps says it will now send its final plan to the U.S. Department of Justice for review.
The Districting Commission also said Monday it had already submitted the plan to the city clerk. Next, the DOJ will need to evaluate whether or not the communities falling in between the lines are either willfully or inadvertently discriminated against based on race or color. Otherwise known as the Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, the protections only apply to Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.The Department of Justice will have 60 days after it receives the commission's maps to evaluate the lines for the city's 51 districts. The City Council quietly filed the maps last week. No council members lodged complaints by Friday's deadline — meaning the plan was effectively adopted.
City Council members only have a few hours left before the newly drawn district maps are sent to the clerk’s office.
While the Council’s agenda on Wednesday may have been dominated by news of its immigration reform and street vendor bills, the Council also filed the Districting Commission’s revised maps. Members must file any objections to the commission by 5 p.m. Friday, otherwise the map will move on to the city clerk’s office — effectively meaning the Council has approved the lines without a vote.
The lines wil then be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for review.
Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said he was disappointed there wasn't more of an announcement from City Hall.
“The fact that there have been no public statements,” Berman said, “is somewhat distressing.”