Cities share N.Y. voting conflict

The "roots" of what at first glance may appear to be just a local election district controversy that has resulted in an 11th-hour postponement of major primaries here are deep and very far-reaching, Monitor correspondent Ward Morehouse reports.

William Costello, executive director of the National Municipal Leaque here, and other urban experts contend the redistricting fight, which came to a head in the US Supreme court late Wednesday, may be just the "tip of the iceberg" of similar situations that could crop up nationwide.

Only hours before the polls were to open, the high court refused to stay a federal court order delaying primary elections Sept. 10. Locally, the decision means that there will be no primary elections until probably next month -- or until after the Justice Department has had time to thoroughly review the city's redestricting plan.

It will raise similar issues in other places -- like Chicago and Los Angeles -- about methods of revising city as well as congressional and state legislative districts.

Redistricting has been initiated to comply with the 1980 federal census. According to census data, the minority population has increased in many major cities, prompting blacks and Hispanics to seek greater representation on city councils. But in New York, the cit council voted to save the seats of two incumbent white council members, even though the overall black population of the city increased from 36 to 47 percent.

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