On October 24th, Hudson Valley Justice Center and the Sustainable Port Chester Alliance conducted a first-of-its-kind voting rights forum at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Port Chester, NY. More than thirty community members attended and participated in this event which provided a basic overview of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, key aspects of the federal voting rights case U.S. v. Village of Port Chester and the ongoing, post-litigation process of selecting a new voting method for the village.
HVJC Exectuive Director Rob McCreanor and Sustainable Port Chester Alliance spokesperson Joan Grangenois-Thomas presented on the history of voting rights legislation in the United States, covered core concepts such as vote denial and vote dilution, and explained why Port Chester’s previous at-large system for electing its Board of Trustees was found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Ms. Grangenois-Thomas emphasized the critical importance of voting rights to fair and effective local government.
Attendees included current and former elected officials who engaged with the other audience members and the presenters in a lively discussion pertaining to the law and local political processes relevant to voting rights. This event was conducted as part of HVCJ and Sustainable Port Chester’s joint effort to promote public engagement in the current reconsideration of Port Chester’s electoral system and to advocate for a fair and transparent process.
Hudson Valley Justice Center and Sustainable Port Chester Alliance conducted a second similar event on November 15, at which representatives of more than 10 local labor unions were in attendance. Represented organizations included Council of School Supervisors & Administrators and Port Chester Teacher Association. Chris Calabrese, a local leader from the Communications Workers of America Union, spoke of the importance of community and union participation in holding government and developers responsible to the community. Zel Sanchez, a Sustainable Port Chester Alliance organizer, invited the community members to take part in further engagement with this issue.