What's Next For Redistricting in NYS

Common Cause/NY, Make the Road NY, New York Civic Engagement Table, CUNY Mapping Service and The Elmont Cultural Center outline what the new census data means for New York

NEW YORK, NY (08/13/2021) (readMedia)-- In response to the U.S. Census Bureau's release of redistricting data, Common Cause/NY, Make the Road NY, New York Civic Engagement Table, CUNY Mapping Service and the Elmont Cultural Center joined together for a briefing to discuss the data release, New York's redistricting process, and what it means for our communities and the future of our state.

Watch here.

This data release begins the next critical step in the 2021 redistricting process. The Census data will provide lawmakers and commissioners information about New York communities so they can start drafting new voting district maps. The data that was released yesterday is the legacy data that has not been arranged for easy use by the US Census. The US Census will release the data in easier to use format on September 30. Our groups will be analyzing the data that has been released to better understand the demographic shifts that have taken place.

Community groups urged New York's redistricting commission to adhere to redistricting best practices, including: drawing districts that are contiguous, and maintain equal population density; respecting political subdivisions and communities of interest; and avoiding the abusive line-drawing that disenfranchises communities of color. Speakers urged the commission not to engage in partisan gerrymandering and to ensure robust public participation and transparency in the process.

Timeline for next steps:

  • September 15th: the last day the New York Redistricting Commission has until to draft district maps and release them to the public.
  • mid-October: the commission will hold public until then to gather feedback
  • November 2nd: The New York Redistricting Changes Amendment will appear on the ballot.
  • The amendment will rectify the redistricting process in NY and: move up the timeline for redistricting; cap the number of State Senators at 63; affirm that total population is the basis for districts; require the state to count residents, including people who are residents but not citizens, should the federal census fail to do so; require that incarcerated persons be counted at the place of their last residence for redistricting; remove the block-on-border for State Senate districts; change the vote threshold to 60% for adopting maps when one party controls both chambers. Fifty community organizations across the state have urged voters to vote yes on this ballot question.
  • January 15 (or January 1 if the Redistricting Ballot Initiative passes): if the Legislature does not approve the maps, the Commission will submit a second proposed set of maps by February 28 (or January 15 if the Redistricting Ballot Initiative passes).

"When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, our maps are more likely to be representative and secure free, fair, and responsive elections for the next decade. We're encouraging all New Yorkers to vote yes on all three ballot initiatives this fall to improve our redistricting process and expand our franchise," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

"Our BIPOC, immigrant, and working class communities have been hit hardest by gerrymandering. Redistricting gives us an opportunity to represent our communities equitably, and it only happens once a decade. We need to ensure a fairer redistricting process by voting Yes this November on the upcoming ballot questions. It's time to hold our legislators accountable to creating fairly drawn congressional maps that give our communities the proper resources, funding, and voice they deserve," said Melody Lopez, Executive Director of New York Civic Engagement Table

"Across NY and in many of the state's largest counties, if it weren't for the population increases among Latinx and AAPI residents, the overall population would have declined," said Ivan Garcia of Make the Road New York. "This means the state and these areas would've been likely to lose representation-more representation, at the Congressional level-without this Latinx and AAPI growth. As we proceed with the redistricting process, immigrant, Black, and brown communities must finally get the representation we deserve."