Common Cause/NY Urges Court to Appoint Special Master for Assembly Maps
Involvement by Legislature and so called "independent" commission barred
NEW YORK, NY (08/26/2022) (readMedia)-- This week, Common Cause/NY submitted an amicus letter to the state Supreme Court urging the Judge to ignore the Legislature's unfounded pleas and appoint a special master to draw the new Assembly maps. The group argues that referring the redrawing of the maps to the state Legislature or the all but defunct redistricting commission would be illegal based on recent court decisions. Additionally, they contend that the Commission would not be able to come to agreement on political lines, repeating the same cycle New Yorkers saw with the Congressional and Senate maps. They also call for ample public hearing on any proposed Assembly districts so New Yorkers can voice their opinions.
Full letter is attached.
"We've seen this play before, and we didn't like the ending. The Court must appoint a special master familiar with New York immediately instead of wasting New Yorkers time and money with a useless bipartisan commission that defaults to the Legislature. New Yorkers deserve non-partisan maps not drawn by politicians who have their own stake in the outcome. Common Cause/NY has long maintained that people, not politicians, should decide what the maps look like. If New York lawmakers want to make sure this chaos never happens again, they must advance an amendment that enshrines a citizen-led redistricting process - based on the gold standard in California - into the constitution now," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
Common Cause/NY has also proposed a constitutional amendment that would establish a truly independent, citizen-led redistricting commission for New York State, similar to the citizen redistricting commissions successfully used in California and Michigan and currently at work in Syracuse, NY.
In the 2010 redistricting cycle, Common Cause New York released the only set of non-partisan redistricting maps for both the state legislature and Congress, which were widely hailed as fair and viable alternatives to the Legislature's official proposals. The proposed congressional map significantly influenced the final map drawn by Special Master Nate Persily, which was adopted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The latest proposed map not only follows the constitutional criteria, the federal Voting Rights Act, and all other relevant law, but it prioritizes protection of the voting rights of language and racial minorities. The Common Cause/NY map uses the existing congressional districts as its starting point, respecting the cores of existing districts to the maximum amount possible, given the demographic changes reported by the United States Census data. The goal, wherever possible, is to avoid splitting counties and towns, and also respect communities of interest, pursuant to Article III, sec.4 (c) (5) of the New York State Constitution. The Common Cause/NY congressional map is drawn to come as close to exact equivalence of population as reasonably possible (-1 to +1).
During the passage of the most recent redistricting constitutional amendments, Common Cause/NY regularly weighed in on the underlying policy, including on the specific criteria that should guide the map making process. Common Cause/NY submitted detailed comments to the Redistricting Commission regarding their proposed maps.