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Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy    JOINDONATE

Redistricting in New York State

Citizens UnionAs has been mentioned previously, the League of Women Voters of NYS and Citizens Union are working for passage of the constitutional amendment concerning redistricting that will be on the ballot in November. The League believes that the proposed amendment will provide for a fairer process for drawing the legislative district lines.

The New York Times published an editorial on +July 7, 2014, criticizing the proposed amendment (click here for editorial).

The State League submitted a response to the New York Times’ editorial in which the Times suggests that the constitutional amendment to reform redistricting “would only make matters worse.”

We believe the editorial is wrong on the basic facts of what it predicts the amendment would do.  Approval of a redistricting plan will need votes of members of  parties not in power,  either by a super-majority vote in the commission or in the legislature itself. 

The minority party in each house of the legislature has the ability to influence the drawing of legislative districts, a substantial improvement over our current broken redistricting process in which minority interests are completely ignored.  The commission therefore is not comparable to the Board of Elections, as the editorial wrongly suggests.  The Board of Elections is confined  to the two major parties and requires a simple majority vote.

In short, Citizens Union and the LWVNYS believe the redistricting amendment deserves voter approval because it will result in fairer maps that are the product of consensus and compromise, ensuring that those in power must collaborate with those in the minority to create new maps reflecting population changes.

A vote for this amendment supports fairer drawing of districts. A vote against the amendment doesn’t fix anything; a “no” vote simply continues the same old broken process that has resulted in gerrymandering for decades.

Below is the letter to the editor published on July 15, 2014 in the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Re “New York’s Mapmaking Scandal” (editorial, July 8):

The League of Women Voters of New York State agrees that the redistricting system in New York State is broken, as demonstrated by the 2012 legislative maps. We support the redistricting constitutional amendment that is on the November ballot because it represents a significant improvement to the status quo.

The amendment establishes an independent commission that allows for participation by all parties, in contrast to the current majority-control system. For the first time, no legislators will be on the commission drawing the lines.

Unlike the current system, the new commission will operate under explicit criteria for drawing lines: The rights of language and racial minorities will be preserved; communities of interest will be recognized and respected; and lines cannot be drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents, political parties or individual candidates.

A vote for this amendment will be a vote for a fairer redistricting process. A vote against the amendment would likely result in perpetuating the system of partisan gerrymandering into 2020 and beyond.

SALLY ROBINSON,  President, League of  Women Voters of New York State
Albany, July 10, 2014


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