Elected Officials, Labor and Community Organizations Urge Voters to Reject Fatally Flawed Proposal 1

Amendment Is Step Backwards Say Members of Congress, State Senate and New York City Council

BROOKLYN, NY (10/30/2014)(readMedia)-- In a strong showing of opposition, State Senators Velmanette Montgomery and Liz Krueger joined with Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler and Councilman Antonio Reynoso in speaking out against Proposal 1, a redistricting amendment to the New York State constitution before the voters November 4. At today's press conference at Borough Hall, local elected officials urged voters to reject the flawed redistricting proposal come Election Day, upholding the need for "fair and impartial redistricting," and noting that this ballot proposal is "neither independent nor impartial."

"Prop 1 purports to combat the cancer of partisan gerrymandering that undermines the integrity of our democracy," said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. "While the goal is laudable, the mechanism employed is deeply flawed. The redistricting panel that would be created by this constitutional amendment raises more questions than answers, and could lock in an unfair partisan advantage for decades. We cannot take that risk, and that is why I strong urge a no vote."

"I encourage all voters to vote no on Proposal 1-'The Redistricting Amendment.' I'm proud to stand with Common Cause in opposing this amendment because it is wrong for New York," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. "We can and must do better in order to achieve truly fair legislative representation for New Yorkers at both the State and Federal levels."

Opponents of Proposal 1 argue the amendment – if passed – would lock a flawed redistricting plan into the New York State constitution for decades to come. Prop 1 would result in the continued under representation of certain communities across the State. Rather than setting up a fair and independent redistricting process that is responsive to voters' concerns, the amendment would perpetuate an already broken system.

If passed, Proposal 1 would create a 10-member Redistricting Commission which a state court judge last month ruled cannot be described as "independent," because the commissioners would be appointed by legislative party leaders, and such a description would mislead voters. In place of actual reform, the amendment would add further confusion to an already murky constitutional provision, inviting yet more lengthy and costly redistricting litigation.

"My Senate district, 25, has over 325,000 people. Upstate Districts have an average of 290,000 or less!" said NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery. "This reduces the power of New York City voters and is fundamentally unjust, and Ballot Proposal 1 makes this inequity a permanent part of the Constitution. Vote No on Prop 1!"

"Proposal One is a sneaky attempt to enshrine partisan redistricting in our constitution, cloaked in the guise of reform," said NYS Senator Liz Krueger. "Virtually every newspaper editorial board has seen through it, and it's my fervent hope that the voters will see through it too."

"Proposal 1 sets up a system that will institutionalize into our state constitution the cracking and packing that has divided Latino and African American communities in New York, resulting in under representation in the State Senate," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, District 34. "To make progress on issues important to my community, like preserving affordable housing and stronger renter protections, we need real redistricting reform, that's why I am voting no on Proposal 1 on the back of the November 4th ballot."

"While Prop 1 may look like a step forward, it is really worse than the current system. It sets a dangerous precedent by adding to our state constitution a committee whose rules change based on the party in power," said Council Member Brad Lander, District 39. "I am worried that this plan takes away the will of the voters to choose their elected officials. We need a real redistricting reform plan, not Prop 1."

The No to Fake Redistricting Reform Committee was established as a campaign committee in 2014 to advocate against Prop 1, a state amendment to the NYS constitution. The committee has been endorsed by most editorial boards across the state, several community, labor and advocacy groups, as well as elected officials at all levels of government. This proposal will take away voters' rights to pick their legislators and continue to divide up the state for the benefit of Albany politicians instead of drawing maps to fairly represent the rights of the voters.