ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — You could say the process of redrawing district maps in New York is a messy one. The Independent Redistricting Commission is giving it a second go at redrawing Assembly district lines after a Manhattan judge declared the process in which those maps were drawn did not follow proper protocol.
This goes back to 2014, when New Yorkers voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to task the The Independent Redistricting Commission with drawing Congressional, Senate and Assembly redistricting lines. The lines are re-drawn every ten years. “So the court struck down the assembly maps for the same reason that they struck down the congressional and Senate maps and that the proper procedure was not followed for drawing the Maps. The commission ended up dead locking and not passing maps and the legislature stepped in and tasked its own maps,” said Michael Li, Redistricting Expert at The Brennan Center for Justice.
Now the Commission – which is made up of ten elected members – is reconvening to submit a new set of maps by December 2, with 12 public hearings to follow. The judge ruled that the Assembly maps submitted by the legislature could only be used one time, which was this past election.
Elaine Frazier is on the Commission. She says they take the work they do seriously and encourage the public to voice their opinion. “And so we are doing these maps again and we are expecting the public to come out and say what they wanna say, and be heard and we will take those comments back and reflect and incorporate where we can and we will submit on a deadline, a fierce deadline,” said Frazier.
Jeff Wice, Senior Fellow for New York Census and Redistricting Institute says, the way the maps are drawn can seriously impact the future of New Yorkers. “The current map, the one that was used last week was a bipartisan plan, Republicans supported it and based on the lines that the Democrats, who control the assembly drew, the Republicans picked up about a half dozen districts that weren’t drawn for them ideally to win. Incumbent Democrats were knocked out so we have a different make up in the Assembly now.
Wice said a serious effort needs to be considered to reform the way those lines are drawn. “I think New Yorkers should know that the process that they approved in 2014 was basically one that was designed to fail, for a process that has so many bells and whistles and twists and turns and impracticalities, that it was no surprise that the process didn’t get where it was supposed to be,” he said. The final proposal for those maps is due in April.