New York Redistricting Watch

NEW: [FairVote's October 2006 testimony to select NY state Assembly committees - PDF 28k]

Background and procedural information
Assembly bill 6287, introduced on 3/9/05, would have established an independent redistricting commission. The primary sponsor was Michael Ginaris, a Democrat from Queens. According to his official website, the bill had 20 co-sponsors and was endorsed by all of New York’s leading good government organizations including Citizens’ Union, NYPIRG, NYU’s Brennan Center, Common Cause/NY, and the League of Women Voters, as well as the Working Families Party. The bill ultimately failed.

Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
No. However, Art. III § 5 of the constitution requires assembly members to be elected from single-member districts and Art. III § 4 mandates 50 senatorial districts for 50 senators.

Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?

Yes. There is no prohibition on using historical voter information in drawing districts.

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
The bill would create an 8-member (all-appointed) apportionment nomination committee (“ANC”), which would then choose the 11 member apportionment commission. The ANC has the responsibility to annually establish a list of 40 eligible members of the apportionment commission. The pool must include 15 Democrats, 15 Republicans, and 10 third-party members or independents. Further, the pool must include at least one member from each of seven geographic regions, and the ANC must ensure the pool reflects the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the state.

The members of the apportionment commission are appointed from this pool in the following manner: 2 are appointed by the president of the senate, 2 are appointed by the speaker of the assembly, 2 are appointed by the minority leader of the senate, 2 are appointed by the minority leader of the assembly, and the final 3 members are elected (6 vote requirement) by the first 8. No more than 4 members can be of the same political party, and the members serve at the pleasure of the official who appointed them.

Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
Yes. Districts may not be drawn to favor or oppose any political party, and, to the extent practicable without significantly undermining the other important factors, must be drawn to encourage competitive districts.

Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
Possibly. There is no specific prohibition on the use of plans submitted by the public, and the commission is granted broad authority in gathering information needed to draw the plans.

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
No. Plans can only be submitted to the legislature in years ending in 1.

November 19th 2005
Redistricting reform: How best to tackle ultra-safe districts
Sacramento Bee

FairVote's Rob Richie argues in commentary running in several newspapers that redistricting reformers must challenge winner-take-all elections.

November 16th 2005
In Canada, regular folks are put to work on reforms
San Jose Mercury News

Steven Hill prescribes a citizens assembly as a solution for achieving consensus on redistricting reform in California.

November 15th 2005
Citizens Must Drive Electoral Reform
Roll Call

Heather Gerken of Harvard Law suggests a citizens assembly as one means to achieve redistricting reform and buy-in from voters.

November 13th 2005
Arnold had the right idea about redistricting
The Herald News

The Herald News cites Fairvote with commentary about the dangers of Gerrmandering and redistricting obstacles.

November 13th 2005
ARNOLD AGONIZES: How the election changed the governor -- and California
San Francisco Chronicle

Article discussing the recent failure of redistricting reform in California and the potential solution in letting the citizens decide through a Citizens Assembly on Election Reform.

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