Common Cause/NY: New Redistricting Leg is an Improvement, Not Gold Standard

NEW YORK, NY (07/22/2020) (readMedia)-- Earlier this week, the State Senate introduced new legislation that will address the redistricting process. In response, Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY issued the following statement:

"California's citizen-led independent redistricting commission is the gold standard and New York's commission is still a long way off. Nevertheless, the proposed amendment is an improvement over the current constitutional provision. It clarifies and simplifies redistricting in New York and provides a uniform set of voting rules for the commission no matter who is in political power: an important objective for any government entity. Requiring that the redistricting Commission count the total number of persons living in the state, including incarcerated individuals at their place of last residence, is also a good step forward. We will continue to work towards the necessary changes to bring New York up to the gold standard of a citizen-led independent redistricting commission."

The proposed legislation will:

  • Cap the number of state Senators at 63
  • Ban prison-based gerrymandering by ensuring prison inmates are counted at their last domestic residency as opposed to their place of incarceration
  • Replace the supermajority requirements for passage of new maps with a 60% threshold
  • Eliminate the provision that changes the voting rules depending on which political party is in power


In 2011, Common Cause New York released the only set of non-partisan redistricting maps for both the state legislature and Congress, which were widely hailed by the media as fair and viable alternatives to the legislature's official proposals. Ultimately, those maps were used by the Special Magistrate as a template for the Congressional lines currently in place. During the 2012-2013 New York City Council redistricting cycle, Common Cause New York offered neighborhood workshops, ensuring residents understood the redistricting process and were able to contribute to setting political boundary lines.