County lawmakers scrapped a vote Tuesday to settle a three-year-old voting rights lawsuit after the ruling Democrats failed in a closed-door caucus to muster enough support to withstand County Executive Dan McCoy’s veto and just hours after McCoy sued to stop them. The chief sticking point was a provision that would have delayed next year’s legislative elections until 2016 ostensibly to accommodate redrawing the county’s political map to include a fifth district in which minority voters are a majority. A coalition of minority residents sued the county in 2011 alleging the redistricting plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting minority voting power. But McCoy, a Democrat also up for re-election next year, said he saw no justification for stalling the races when the new district has already essentially been drawn and ballot petitioning won’t begin for seven months.
The legislature’s Republican minority, meanwhile, blasted the move as a Democratic ploy to consolidate power by forcing the GOP to defend its seats in a heavily blue county during a presidential election year.
“There was no support,” Chairman Shawn Morse, a Cohoes Democrat, said after emerging from the 90-minute caucus. “That was the whole point of having the meeting tonight.”
Morse, however, denied that the idea of delaying the election started with the legislature, blaming McCoy instead — a countercharge McCoy’s office flatly denied.