In his latest Gotham Gazette demographics column “Failure of Redistricting Reform Could Bring Reprise of 2002’s Fiasco,” Social Explorer’s Andrew Beveridge details what’s at stake with the upcoming redistricting round in New York.
As the current state legislative session winds down, efforts to reform the redistricting process in New York state appear to be dead. Yet, at this very moment the new Citizens Redistricting Commission in California, which has final authority, has released a preliminary plan that in the process of cleaning up lines would radically alter the California congressional delegation.
It would add up to five Hispanic seats, increase the number of Democrats and throw a number of sitting U.S. representatives into the same district. Beyond that, the commission’s proposal may end up creating the Democratic super majorities in both houses of the state legislature needed to raise the state’s taxes and pull it out of its financial crisis.
Meanwhile in New York state, despite former Mayor Ed Koch’s efforts to get many legislators to pledge to vote for reform, despite the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims to be making it a priority and despite universal support of the usual good government groups, no bill has been reported out or is expected to come to the floor before the session is over in a few days. This means that the same chaotic system that brought us an impasse in Congress and the deadlocked State Senate will remain in place for this round.
He goes on to explain obstacles specific to New York, the chaos of the 2002 round of redistricting, and maps and numbers with a breakdown of recent population shifts and necessary changes to district lines. He concludes:
The population’s changes are massive, but the legislature together with the governor have chosen to keep complete control of the redistricting process (except for possible court or Justice Department intervention) for another round. They will maintain their power, as they have in the past. Unlike California, there is little prospect for fair redistricting in New York State, only chaos similar to the last round.
Click here to read the entire article. He recently testified at a redistricting reform hearing in Albany, which you can read about here.