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What Pictures Can You Spot In This gerrymandered Map?

Do you know the origin of the word “gerrymander”? It’s a mashup of Gerry (the name of a Boston politician who drew up a district map with some weird shapes in it in order to tilt the districts in his political party’s favor) and salamander (which is the shape of one of those districts).

The proposed Nassau County,NY Legislative Districts map that has been prepared in violation of the Nassau County Charter, has some weird shapes in it, too.

It’s like looking at cloud formations. Can you spot the barbell? How about the telephone receiver? Can you pick out the baby T-Rex that looks like it’s walking uphill? There are also two separate districts that just touch at the corner and their trying to call it a single district. There’s one on the Soutwest corner of the county that looks a bit like a seahorse.

On Monday, May 9th, the Nassau County Legislature is going to hold its only hearing on this proposed map. As I told you the other day, the procedure under which it has been created contradicts the county charter requirements for redistricting and deviates from the practices in prior redistrictings.

Further, these cut some villages in half and break up clusters of communities that share the same concerns. They are breaking up the 5 Towns fercrissakes! And they are breaking up the shorefront communities with ties to the environmental movement and to the commercial fishing industry, diluting the voices and power of those interest groups. They are lumping competing minority groups into a single district and claiming it creates a new “minority district” but in reality it pits those groups against each other to make it easier for the Republican party to maintain control. This does not merely dilute the vote of one type of voter, it destroys micro regional coalitions that have grown up in a given locale.

This is a pre season warm-up for the redistricting wars to come in NYS, and the rest of the country. Bill Samuels, Founder of the New Roosevelt Initiative, explains:

“This is the core of what is wrong with gerrymandering, and why Nassau’s GOP should be ashamed,” said Samuels. “When communities and constituencies are unfairly divided, their right to fair representation is diminished.  It is a fundamentally un-American attempt to undermine democracy and harm the rights of voters.”

From a press release issued by New Roosevelt

In examining the Nassau GOP’s proposed lines, Samuels found that the plan is clearly intended to benefit the current Majority by dividing communities and creating convoluted districts that not only defy common sense, but also diminish a community’s ability to choose their representatives.


A map of the GOP’s proposed districts clearly shows elongated, misshapen districts that cut apart neighborhoods for partisan gain.  Yet the plan is being foisted upon a public that had no input into its creation, and will have only one public hearing on Monday, May 9 which is expected to be little more than a show trial before Nassau County Legislative Republicans pass the plan as is.

Folks, this is the first of may such battles to come in your states and in your counties. Be ready.

In the meantime, what shapes do you see in these convoluted lines? Prize for rhe most creative.

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Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril

Cynthia Kouril is a former Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York under several different U.S. Attorneys, former counsel to the Inspector General for the N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection where she investigated threats to the New York City water supply and other environmental crimes, as well as public corruption and fraud against the government, former Examining Attorney at the N.Y.C. Department of Investigation and former Capital Construction Counsel at New York City Parks and Recreation.
She is now in private practice with a colleague whom she met while at the USA Attorney's Office. Ms. Kouril is a member of the Steering Committee, National Committeewoman and Regional Coordinator for the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, a member of the Program Committee of the Federal Bar Council and a member of the Election Law Committee at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She is active in several other Bar Associations.
Most important of all, she is a soccer mom.