The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), together with pro bono counsel Kaye Scholer LLP, Thursday filed a complaint on behalf of four Asian American voters urging the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to adopt a redistricting plan that provides Asian Americans in New York with equal political representation.
One of the plaintiffs, Steve Chung, is an Asian American and U.S. citizen who resides in Marine Park, Brooklyn — the 59th Assembly District, 22nd Senatorial District and the 9th Congressional District — and also works in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn as President of the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn.
Chung and three other plaintiffs are filing this complaint as plaintiff-intervenors, hoping to join in the lawsuit Favors v. Cuomo, filed in November in Brooklyn federal court by six other city voters who are also concerned with the lagging redistricting process.
All plaintiffs fear that political deals and inaccurate statistics from the 2010 U.S. census may damage the redistricting process if the courts don’t intervene.
Over the past decade, the Asian American population in New York has grown dramatically to almost 1.5 million, or 7.3% of the state. In New York City alone, the Asian American population increased 32% to over one million. In Queens, the Asian American population grew 300 times faster than the rest of the borough, to 500,000 residents.
“The current political maps — drawn a decade ago — do not take into account this growth, leaving Asian Americans severely underrepresented,” said Glenn D. Magpantay, director of AALDEF’s Democracy Program. “The current district lines are invalid under the U.S. Constitution and state law because Asian Americans’ votes count less than the votes of other New Yorkers.”
However, the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) and the New York State Legislature, the two entities charged with redrawing district lines, have not released new maps in time for the 2012 primaries. AALDEF’s complaint requests that an independent party or “Special Master” be appointed to redraw districts immediately.