Island Vote 2012: A closer look at LI's new voting districts

SYOSSET - As the 2012 election draws near, some Long Islanders may find that they don't even know who represents them right now -- particularly residents who live in a handful of recently redrawn districts.There are several quirks to the maps that were redrawn based on the latest U.S. census.Some Nassau towns, for example, are now included in a district that is predominantly Queens-based. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) is well-known in Queens, but less so in Elmont, Valley Stream and Inwood, which are now a part of his district.State Assemblyman Joe Saladino (R-Massapequa) saw his district drastically redesigned. He once represented a portion of southeast Nassau, but now his district stretches into Babylon and West Islip in Suffolk County.Political consultant Mike Dawidziak says boundaries are drawn by elected officials who are trying to protect their own jobs. Neighborhoods might be included or excluded based on what party they tend to vote for, he says.Good government groups say there's an easy solution: to let a panel of impartial experts redraw the districts every 10 years, instead of the Legislature. It's an idea that's been talked about for decades, but is rarely implemented.For more Island Vote 2012 coverage and to view local debates, go to Optimum TV Channel 612.

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