ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — Within the next 48 hours, New York State will release its first draft of its redistricting map, which is unveiled every 10 years after the Census to show potential new district lines for the Assembly, State Senate, and House of Representatives.
Much like everything else this year, the process looked different because of the pandemic. The Census results were delayed, giving the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission less time to create the maps. Because of that, advocates are concerned the results could favor one political side.
“Any negotiations that have happened until this point have been behind closed doors,” Deputy Director of the League of Women Voters Jennifer Wilson said. “It’s something that we’re extremely concerned about, and are going to continue to be concerned about until we start to actually hear conversations among commissioners and see what these negotiations are.”
According to Wilson, the public won’t know for sure whether the maps favor one political side until they’re released on or before Wednesday. If there’s an issue, advocates can file a lawsuit.
“At that point is when certain organizations can step in and take legal action,” Wilson said. “But it is very difficult to sue on redistricting maps, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they’re being drawn in a way to gerrymander. I’m hoping it won’t come to that.”
Whatever the end result of the maps may be, New York is set to lose one seat in the House of Representatives. “You lose one more person at the table in Congress. You lose the ability to secure additional funding,” said Assemblymember Philip Palmesano. “It definitely changes the dynamics for the state of New York.”
All of this is happening as Congressional leaders push forward a proposal to revamp New York’s redistricting process.
The proposal would change voting rules for Commission and Legislature with regard to draft maps as well as the appointment of Co-Executive Directors. It would also allow the Legislature to propose their own plan if the Redistricting Commission fails.
Other than the Legislative voting rules, there would be no effective changes for the redistricting cycle, according to the League of Women Voters.
“The proposal takes away that failsafe, so it’s just a simple majority,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in control, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. It’s just a simple majority of the legislators and the commissioners of the Independent Redistricting Commission have to vote in favor of it.”