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Form county panel now

Editor, OBSERVER:

The League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County strongly urges the County Legislature to prepare for redistricting now. Now is the time to focus on the creation of an exploratory bipartisan work group to lay the groundwork for the bipartisan redistricting committee or commission as required by our county’s charter.

According to Section 2.01 of the county charter, once the official committee or commission is appointed, its members have only three months to study the population data and make recommendations in the form of a local law to the Legislature. This three-month period is woefully inadequate to effectively analyze the data, consider new redistricting lines, and draft a local law that would be acceptable to the members of the bipartisan committee or commission and the Legislature. As a decrease in population numbers is anticipated, there may be many changes that need to be considered.

During these weeks leading up to the arrival of Census numbers, this exploratory bi-partisan group could be researching and exploring mapping software and tools necessary to address redistricting needs. Many options exist, far more than for Census 2010.

Importantly, the committee could be using this time to study relevant legislation passed in June by both houses of the State Legislature that set new standards for redistricting including Charter Counties like ours. The legislation is expected to be signed by the governor, and would provide guidance and standards we must consider, including population equality, minority voting rights, compactness, contiguity, and partisan fairness.

The League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County strongly urges our County Legislature to set about appointing a bipartisan work group as soon as possible to begin the work of redistricting. It is important that you act now so that the groundwork can begin!

The League of Women Voters of Chautauqua concurs with George Borrello, R-Sunset, as he urges constituents of the 57th Senate District to make their voices heard to help ensure fair representation for the region. If groups or individuals would like to contact the Independent Redistricting Commission, they may visit the website at http://www.nyirc.gov . You may voice your opinion or give testimony about protection of your community of interest.

MARY CROXTON,

president,

League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County

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