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Commentary: A violation of voter rights

The rights of voters from the 5th Suffolk District have been violated by acts of the government

5/5/2014, 2:29 p.m.

The rights of voters from the 5th Suffolk District have been violated by acts of the government. Although Carlos Henriquez was elected twice to serve as the representative from that district, on Feb. 6, 2014, members of the House voted 146-5 to unseat him. This is the first time since 1916 that a member of the House has been ousted.

The basis for the ouster is that Henriquez was convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and was sentenced to a six-month jail term. However, since there is no code of conduct in the House to cover such offenses, Henriquez’s expulsion is invalid and unconstitutional.

To be certain that Henriquez did not return after his jail term, leaders of the House called for a new election to be held before his release date. Henriquez was approved on April 11 for parole that was originally scheduled for Friday, April 25. But the release date was mysteriously extended by the parole board until after April 29, the date of the special election for the new representative and the last day to file signatures for the new election.

There was no opposition from the community over such outrageous official conduct, perhaps because some people believe Henriquez should be punished for his misconduct. However, it is an inadvisable precedent to permit members of the Legislature to negate the vote of district residents. The proper procedure is for the community to express their dissatisfaction at the polls in the next election.

Now community leaders have to maintain special attention to guard against any further deprivation of their rights.