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Judge Orders Remedy in Port Chester Voting

(CN) - A federal judge allowed Port Chester, N.Y., to adopt a new voting system, after the government accused the village of diluting the voting strength of Hispanic citizens.

In late 2006, the government sued Port Chester, claiming the village's at-large system for electing its board of trustees "diluted the voting strength" of the Hispanic community. U.S. District Judge Stephen Robinson in White Plains, N.Y., blocked the village from holding the election in March 2007. He later ruled that the at-large system violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He blocked the village from

In a decision from the bench Friday, Judge Robinson said Port Chester could adopt a cumulative voting system, the village's preferred remedy, so long as the board election occurs at the same time. The village must also implement an education program to explain the change to voters, Robinson said.

In a cumulative system, each voter is given multiple votes based on the number of available positions. Voters can then cast all of their six votes for one board member or split them among their preferred candidates.

The 2010 election will be moved from March to June, so the village has time to educate voters about the new process. Robinson ordered Port Chester to the develop a detailed education program and submit it to the district court for approval on Dec. 8.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kennedy and the Justice Department's trial attorney Timothy Mellett are handling the case.

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