New York lawmakers are bracing for the 10-year redistribution process that could shift the state’s political landscape and change the way voters and regions are represented in the halls of power in Albany and Washington.
Later today, the first of eight regional hearings will be held on the redistribution process, with the commission tasked with drawing the political boundaries of the House of Representatives and state legislature meeting on Long Island.
And state and federal lawmakers want their constituents to participate in these meetings as part of a new process following a constitutional amendment in 2014 that gave much of the work to an independent commission appointed by the legislature of the state.
In recent days, lawmakers have sought to rally voters to participate in the process and in public hearings.
“The creation of an independent redistribution commission took power away from politicians and put it in the hands of citizens to ensure that no part of the state, no particular interest or no political party enjoys an advantage. unjust, and helps create a balanced government and representation for the next 10 years, ”said Senator Daphne Jordan, a Republican who represents a suburban district of the Capital Region. “This historic reform, approved by an overwhelming majority in a referendum, creates a more open and transparent redistribution process, but it only works if citizens themselves stand up and make their voices heard as the commission begins to redraw the boundaries. of the district. “
At the congressional level, there is even more at stake. The redistribution is based on the 2020 census, and because New York has not grown as fast as the rest of the country, the state will lose one of its 27 seats in the House of Representatives, redistributed to a faster growing state.
“Political games have no place in our dear democracy,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from the north of the country who represents the largest geographically district in the northeast. “The only way to ensure a fair and equitable redistribution process is to have transparency and participation. That is why I strongly urge the voters of NY-21 to exercise their civic duty and participate in these public hearings to protect the voice of the country of the North. “
There are pitfalls for incumbents with the new process in place – especially Republicans in a Democratic-dominated state in both houses of the Legislature and in voter registration.
The previous redistribution was solely in the hands of state lawmakers, essentially allowing them to choose their constituents by drawing often oddly shaped districts to ensure one party’s advantage over the other. Some members of Congress have even hired lobbyists to influence their elected colleagues in Albany for a redistribution.
A commission with some withdrawal from the legislature was designed to put an end to this practice. The proposed cards twice rejected by the legislature would send the process back to the Senate and State Assembly, where Democrats hold a qualified majority.
Voters could further clarify the complicated process of approving and drawing the card in November.
A proposed constitutional amendment would cap the membership of the state Senate at 63 seats. It would also count residents regardless of their immigration status and would require incarcerated persons to be counted as the last district in which they resided, and not where they are currently incarcerated.
The new cards could be in place by January 2022.