Redistricting Commission Update
We had an extremely busy summer related to Redistricting. In addition to hiring our new Organizer (Milly Czerwinski), the Commission itself held public hearings in July and August but did not hold any public meetings until the start of September. At their September meeting they announced that they had hired two Redistricting mapping consultants – Redistricting Insights and Redistricting Partners. The also stated at this meeting they would release their maps and their hearing schedule at their next meeting. On September 15th the Commission released their draft maps. Two sets of maps were put forward; there was no specific discussion on the maps although it was obvious one was a Republican drafted map and one was a Democratic drafted map. At this meeting the Commission also released their planned hearing schedule:
The maps that were released were not in a format that was easily viewable by New Yorkers. The maps were compiled into individual Zip file that included images of maps that did not display street names or anything recognizable to the average New Yorker. The other files were in formats only understandable by map making experts.
The League worked to transfer these maps into a more user-friendly format and created a Google map that included all six map drafts as well as the current maps for NYS Congressional, Senate, and Assembly districts. Milly worked to get all of these maps uploaded and organized and they were then shared via the League’s social media,
Use these maps to look at your own current district lines and the ones proposed by the Commission.
In late August, the League had sent a letter urging the Commission to hold public meetings on their mapping negotiations and to post publicly submitted testimonies and transcripts of their listening session and to make those materials available in multiple languages. We did not receive a response to that letter but the IRC did tweet at us that they intended to make those materials available.
On Sept 15 the Commission did post their received public testimonies but they have yet to post transcripts or make any materials available in other languages. We sent a follow up letter to the Commission urging them once again to publicize their meetings and to ensure greater transparency in future negotiations. We further urged the Commission to make their maps available in an easier to use format for New Yorkers and to release relevant mapping demographic data to voters could understand how these maps were drawn.
Milly and Jennifer have begun meeting with local League redistricting delegates. A statewide convening of delegates was held shortly before draft maps were released. Steve Elliot, former LATFOR staffer and LWV Albany County League member, spoke to the group about the population outcome for NYS from the 2020 Census and gave an update on the Commission’s work. After this meeting, we met with around a dozen local League chapters for regional meetings on redistricting. These meetings were scheduled for the week of this board meeting – at the time of this report we had met with 4 regions (Hudson Valley/Westchester, Central NY, Western NY, and Long Island) and had three additional meetings scheduled (Capital Region, NYC, and North Country).
We are now working to identify how we will be updating our redistricting materials to create new educational presentations to help the public understand how to evaluate draft maps.
The League was invited to testify at a hearing on board of elections reform in September. We presented testimony urging the legislature to prioritize standardization of election processes and ensuring greater transparency and accountability of county board of elections. The League specifically named the following four reforms:
Implementing uniform standards and practices
Standardizing staffing and salaries
Increasing transparency and accountability
And restricting the statutory requirement for bipartisanship in election administration to the minimum constitutional requirement
The League submitted our testimony and also testified in person alongside other advocate groups.
Ballot Questions Campaign
On September 21 the League announced our campaign on 4 statewide ballot proposals. The League will be opposing Proposal 1, supporting Proposals 2, 3, and 4, and taking no position on Proposal 5. Our kick-off event boasted 145 participants and we had Sally Robinson, VP of Issues and Advocacy, Kathy Stein, Member of the Environmental Conversation Issues Committee, and Kate Doran, Election Issues Specialist, speak about the first 4 proposals and our position on each. We then shared with members the materials we would be sending to local League Presidents and Voter Service Chairs.
The League has also produced a paper palm card that was sent to all local League chapters to use at their voter registration drives.ule: