Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the town of Islip held a press conference yesterday at Islip Town Hall to discuss the status of a voting rights case started in 2018. On July 30, Federal District Court Judge Brown declared that Islip Town would go to trial in September, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The case of Flores v. The Town of Islip seeks to overturn an at-large representation system in the town that the plaintiffs argue disenfranchise Latino residents who are outvoted by the overall town vote, even as they live in areas of mostly-Latino constituencies.
The plaintiffs are Latino residents of the town, along with two nonprofit groups— Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change—that work with Latino communities on Long Island, represented by Hempstead attorney Frederick K. Brewington. Brewington successfully sued the town of Hempstead in similar case.
In a news release, Make the Road New York explained that the case “seeks to vindicate [the communities’] rights and the rights of generations to come by challenging the current at-large form of Town Government and replace it with a councilmatic system that would allow Latino voters in Islip to be able to finally select a candidate of their choice to represent them on the Islip Town Board.”
“Islip’s at-large voting structure for Town Board denies Latinos representation in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Plaintiffs seek to replace Islip’s at-large voting system with single member districts, which must include at least one majority Latino district. Under the current system, Islip’s sizable Latino population is unable to elect their preferred candidates to Town Board because they are consistently outvoted by the white majority. Moreover, no candidate of Latino ethnicity has ever been elected to Town Board.”