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New redistricting proposal challenges Erie County Legislature

By Michael Mroziak

Buffalo – An independent effort involving members of UB's Law School, working in collaboration with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, has submitted a proposed map of what it calls a fair realignment of district borders.

A group from UB's Law School, working with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, is releasing its own proposal for new county legislative lines.

With the county legislature reducing itself from 15 to 11 seats, the county map will be redrawn into 11 districts.

But project members, including UB Law Student Patrick Fitzgerald, say the plans already under consideration don't necessarily reflect the interests of the voting public.

"Up to this point the plans that have been submitted by the (County's) Advisory Repportionment Committee have not been useful," said UB Law student Patrick Fitzgerald. "In fact, they've misstated the law in some cases, and therefore we have decided to take action."

The group, which calls itself independent and nonpartisan, says their map leaves entire communities intact while also preventing the dilution of minority voters.

Group members say the goal of this plan, submitted to the county on the last day for the acceptance of public reapportionment proposals, is to bring the process into the open and not leave the community with district realignment that's done without their opportunity to offer input.

"What we're concerned about is that we've not seen a viable map and that a map will be adopted a map that has been drafted behind closed doors and that serves purely the interest of the elected officials and ignores the public interest," said UB Law School Associate Professor Michael Halberstam.

For more on the county's upcoming redistricting, you can go online at Erie Dot Gov, follow the link to the legislature's web site, and then click on the link to the Advisory Committee on Reapportionment.