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Islip Has Spent Millions Fighting Voting Rights Case

Bebeto Matthews

The town of Islip on Long Island has spent nearly $3 million in 2019 battling a federal voting rights lawsuit that alleges the town’s electoral system denies Latino voters equal representation. 

The lawsuit says people of color make up half of Islip’s population, but a minority councilmember has never been elected to the town board.

The lawsuit wants to do away with “at-large voting,” which they say prevents minorities from winning seats on the council.

It also wants the town to redistrict its council member seats so there is one district with a Latino majority.

The town had originally allocated around $180,000 for outside legal fees in 2019. The rest of the nearly $3 million came from the town’s reserve fund.

Earlier this year, a federal judge denied a request by the Latino residents and community groups to change the electoral system ahead of this year’s election while waiting for the trial to begin.

Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
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