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WAYNE D. POKORNY v. BOARD SUPERVISORS CHENANGO COUNTY ET AL. (06/09/69)

SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, SPECIAL TERM, CHENANGO COUNTY 1969.NY.41921 <http://www.versuslaw.com>; 302 N.Y.S.2d 358; 59 Misc. 2d 929 June 9, 1969 WAYNE D. POKORNY, PLAINTIFF,v.BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF CHENANGO COUNTY ET AL., DEFENDANTS Lee, Lee & Rappleyea (Clifton M. Tamsett, Jr., of counsel), for plaintiff. James A. Haynes, Jr., County Attorney (Richard S. Scolaro of counsel), for Board of Supervisors of Chenango County, defendant. Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney-General (Robert W. Imrie of counsel), for State of New York, defendant. Renfroe Jackson for City of Norwich, defendant. David F. Lee, Jr., J. Author: Lee


David F. Lee, Jr., J.

Author: Lee

 The defendant Board of Supervisors moves "for an Order approving a reapportionment of the Board of Supervisors of Chenango County" as provided in Local Law No. 1 of the Local Laws of 1969 of Chenango County. The plan submitted has been approved "as a temporary and interim plan of apportionment." The court is called upon to determine whether the weighted voting plan meets the constitutional standards laid down by the United States Supreme Court in Gray v. Sanders (372 U.S. 368); Reynolds v. Sims (377 U.S. 533); and Avery v. Midland County (390 U.S. 474), cited by this court in the decision of December 5, 1968 on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

The constitutionality of the weighted voting plan submitted depends on how closely it approximates the ideal of giving each resident of the county equality of representation in the Board of Supervisors; on whether it complies with the principle of "one person, one vote." Under such a weighted voting plan each legislator is entitled to a number of votes proportional to the population of the represented district, and where the discrepancies in voting power are not extreme the constitutional requirements are met. "Ideally, in any weighted voting plan, it should be mathematically possible for every member of the legislative body to cast the decisive vote on legislation in the same ratio which the population of his constituency bears to the total population. * * * A legislator's voting power, measured by the mathematical possibility of his casting a decisive vote, must approximate the power he would have in a legislative body which did not employ weighted voting.

In order to measure the mathematical voting power of each member of these county boards of supervisors and compare it with the proportion of the population which he represents, it would be necessary to have the opinions of experts based on computer analyses." (Iannucci v. Board of Supervisors of County of Washington, 20 N.Y.2d 244, 252, 253.)

The testimony of an expert concerning the proposed plan, based on computer analysis, and the opinions of the expert have been presented on a hearing in this matter. The expert, Lee Papayanopoulos, testified on direct examination, in part:

"Q. Now, sir, with respect to the weighting of each of the supervisor's votes with the Chenango County reapportionment plan, are these votes as determined from your program analysis in proportion to the number of times that legislator can effect the outcome of legislation as compared to the population that that legislator represents. A. The votes are as shown here plus, in effect, which I mentioned before, which is the voting power which is in proportion as you described.

"Q. Can voting power be stated to mean the number of times that a particular legislator could affect the outcome of legislation? A. That is a definition of voting power.

"Q. That is a definition of voting power. Then in other words, this program with deviations 1.4 plus, and minus 2.04 plus, indicates that each legislator has a number of votes substantially in proportion to the population that he represents? A. It turns out that that is the case. Roughly the number of votes assigned to each legislator is approximately equal to the population which he represents.

"Q. Assuming that we had a districting plan for the County of Chenango, would the voting power of each legislator representing a substantially equally populated district and each having one vote, would the voting power of that legislator be comparable or substantially equal to the voting power of each legislator under a weighted voting plan as proposed here? A. The representation of the people in the legislator's constituency would be represented -- all facts weighed -- equally as under the equal district plan.

"Q. I just have two or three final questions. In your estimation, does the plan as contained in the local law represent a true reflection of the voting power of each of the legislators as compared to the population each represents? A. Yes, it does.

"Q. From your experience, would you state that there would be a comparable result with respect to the voting power of each legislator if a districting plan using districts of equal population, one vote allocated to each legislator, were employed rather than a computerized weighted voting plan. A. Would the voting power of the legislator be --

"Q. Comparable. A. -- comparable. In absolute terms, it would be different, but in relative terms to his constituency, it would be --

"Q. In proportion to the population he represents then, it would be the same? A. Then it would be the same.

"Q. And you would state, sir, that this plan represents an equitable allocation of votes in proportion to the population that each legislator represents? A. Yes, ...


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