Redistricting New York
Redistricting is an incredibly important process that draws our voting districts for the next ten years. New York State residents have the opportunity to guide these drafts. Voters from across the state can submit written comments to the IRC for the next several weeks.
In 2014, New York State amended its constitution to create a politically neutral redistricting process with opportunities for public input. The amendment created the IRC, which is a ten-member, bipartisan commission. The commission proposes fair election district maps to the state legislature and limits gerrymandering. The IRC is required to receive public input on its proposal. They will share the proposal with the legislature on January 1, 2022.
New York State Redistricting Process So Far
A little over a month ago, the IRC shared its first drafts of district maps for public comment. There were disagreements between Democratic and Republican commissioners and a 9-month delay in receiving census data. The IRC took the unexpected step of proposing two sets of draft maps because of these issues. Each party created its own maps for Congress, State Senate, and Assembly, which totals six drafts.
Public input is more important than expected because we still don’t have a single set of draft maps. The IRC must resolve its disagreements to get a single proposal to the state legislature in January. Public input will decide what that proposal looks like.
Staten Islanders Can Get Involved
On November 15, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) will be holding a public hearing for Staten Island residents so they can to listen to our input on the IRC’s proposed district maps. These hearings and comments have the potential to affect what the Island’s district lines will look like for the:
- House of Representatives
- State Senate
- State Assembly.
There are certain requirements that every person should try to base their thoughts on.
The same amendment that created the IRC requires that our final district lines be
- Contiguous (share a common border/touch)
- preserve minority voting power
- lines do not favor a single party or candidate (gerrymandering)
The final district lines must keep communities of interest – distinct, similar groups of voters – together.
Ask Yourself a Few Questions:
- Do the draft maps take on weird, unusual shapes?
- Is my neighborhood divided in a way that makes sense?
- Will I have to travel through another district to get into another part of my own?
Redistricting Choices Aren’t Limited
We have two sets of draft maps out there but this does NOT mean those drafts are our only choices. You are encouraged to criticize the drafts or propose your own if both options leave your neighborhood or your social group underrepresented.
This process will only work if we let the IRC hear our voices and demand districts that will best serve our communities. Redistricting is one of the most important processes in our democracy. For the first time in our state’s history, we can influence it and it’s our responsibility to use that power.