New York Attorney General Steps in To Defend State Voting Rights Act in Local Redistricting Suit

Photo of NY Attorney General Letitia James (Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)
Photo of NY Attorney General Letitia James (Thomas Good / Next Left Notes)

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is stepping into a local redistricting lawsuit to defend the New York Voting Rights Act (NYVRA), a state law that protects minority voters and prohibits vote dilution at the local level. 

James is intervening in a case filed on behalf of a Cheektowaga resident challenging the at-large system used to elect the Cheektowaga Town Board under the NYVRA.

The voter’s lawsuit argues that the six-member board that governs Cheektowaga denies Black residents proper representation and requests that the town enact a map of six single-member districts for all future town board elections. The lawsuit alleges the six-member body that governs the Town of Cheektowaga has not elected Black voters’ preferred candidates in multiple races, but would have if the town adopted a districting system. 

In response to the lawsuit, the town argues the NYVRA violates both the New York and U.S. Constitutions. The town’s challenge to the state law’s constitutionality will be an important test for the future of the law.  As a result, the state attorney general has stepped in to defend the law, writing in her motion to intervene that she has “elected to intervene in support of the statute’s constitutionality.” 

The attorney general will submit a longer brief detailing her argument in favor of the NYVRA by Aug. 23. 

State-level voting rights acts are integral in ensuring diverse representation at the local level and give voters one more tool in their tool belt to fight discrimination in voting and redistricting. Currently, Democracy Docket is tracking five active lawsuits that utilize the NYVRA to challenge local representation across New York. 

Read the New York attorney general’s motion to intervene here. 

Learn more about the case here.

Learn about how the New York Voting Rights Act is being used here.