South Asian-Americans seek ‘Brown Districts’ for polls

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Friday, November 19, 2010

NEW YORK - A South Asian group based in Queens, home to 62 percent people from the region living in New York, is seeking a redrawing of district boundaries to give them fair representation in the 2012 elections.

Current ‘arbitrary’ district boundaries kept some 4,225 South Asian-American voters out of the Nov 2 special election to fill an open seat in the 28th district of the New York City Council, the not-for-profit group “Taking Our Seat” claims.

According to the group’s analysis South Asian-Americans voters could not vote in an election that determined the Council member from two largely South Asian neighbourhoods: Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park.

Noting that the eventual winner of the race only garnered 3,347 votes with 10,737 total votes cast for 7 candidates, John Prakash Albert, founder of the group said: “4,225 additional South Asian voters would have had a tremendous impact on this race.”

The group said an examination of South Asian population density, electoral office district lines and voter registration in those neighbourhoods, showed that a vibrant South Asian community was arbitrarily divided when district maps were drawn.

The analysis shows that the five census tracts that have the highest concentrations of South Asians in that area are not all grouped together in one City Council district even though those census tracts border each other or are within blocks of each other, it said.

Worse yet, even those highest density census tracts that are in the 28th Council district are split with other districts, diluting the South Asian vote.

In response to the findings, Taking Our Seat is launching a grassroots advocacy campaign: ‘Brown Districts, Now’ to advocate within the upcoming redistricting process to keep South Asian-American neighbourhoods together when districts are redrawn.

“By keeping our communities intact during the upcoming redistricting process we will be able to give South Asian voters a voice,” it said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

Filed under: Politics

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