New York Redistricting 2000

New York’s Political Lineup

State Senate34R, 27D36R, 25D
State House92D, 58R

99D, 51R

US Senators1D, 1R2D
US Reps21D, 13R19D, 12R


Greater New York City Area

Legal Issues

The redistricting plan for the New York state Assembly was challenged both in federal and state court. The federal suit attacked the plan on several grounds: equal population, minority vote dilution, partisan gerrymandering, and on Equal Protection grounds for fragmenting communities of interest and political subdivisions. A federal district court dismissed all claims and upheld the plan. It noted that the plaintiffs failed to make a preliminary showing of partisan gerrymandering and the equal population violations. The maximum population deviation between districts did not exceed the threshold level of 10% and the Republicans were in control of the New York senate. 


The New York Court of Appeals overturned a lower court's ruling that had upheld a challenge against the state senate plan that alleged a violation of Article III of the New York State Constitution; Article III requires that no county be divided in formation of senate districts. The court explained that although the plan violated 23 counties, defendants convinced the court the breaches were made to comply with federal statutory requirements. 


A state court enacted New York’s congressional plan when several plaintiffs filed suit after the New York State Assembly failed to enact a plan in 1992. A federal court also drew a plan in case the state's plan failed to be precleared by the Department of Justice in time for the state primary election. The state court plan was precleared in time for the primaries, but the plaintiffs urged the federal court to adopt its plan instead, because it was considered more amiable to minority voters. The federal court declined.

The state court plan was then challenged in 1996 when some voters residing in the 12th congressional district claimed that the district was an unconstitutional gerrymander. The court concluded that the district was not narrowly tailored to comply with sections 2 or 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and was drawn with race as the predominant factor. The state was ordered to enact a new districting plan, which it did in 1997.

Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?

The legislature. Since the 1980’s, a Joint Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment has had responsibility for drawing congressional and state legislative districts. The senate majority leader and speaker of the house must each appoint one legislator and one private citizen and the minority leaders of both houses must appoint one member of the legislature to form a six-member body. The legislators appointed by the house and senate leaders serve as co-chairs on the task force. The governor has veto power over both plans.

Redistricting Deadline

Before the 2002 election cycle.

Political Landscape

New York State’s population has stayed relatively constant in recent decades, which has resulted in a steady decline in its number of U.S. House seats. In 2001, the state lost two more seats, resulting in a delegation of 29 seats. At a congressional level, expect partisan jockeying over which incumbents may lose seats and whether more Democratic voters might be added to Republican-held districts that are growing increasingly Democratic – Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole in every congressional district in the state in 1996. Congressional districting in New York City – already a testament to creative cartography -- may grow contentious due to efforts to represent its increasing racial and ethnic diversity. 


At a state level, the Republicans have safely controlled the state senate and the Democrats the state house for three decades, in large part due to their respective control of redistricting in their chamber. Democrats took a run at the state senate in 2000, but had an uphill battle – few incumbents ever lose in New York, largely due to their safe districts. Democrats surely will be trying to create an opportunity to sweep control of state government in 2002.

Districting Principles 



State Legis.







Political subdivisions


Communities of interest


Cores of prior districts


Protect incumbents


VRA § 5

+ (partial)

+ (partial)

  + = required             - = prohibited

Public Access

During the 1990s round of redistricting, there were two sets of public hearings around the state. Citizens were able to testify and submit proposed plans. Public hearings for this round have not been announced, but are expected. Plans to put information on the Internet are being considered. Officials will provide floppy discs containing census population and geography information that will be used by the state legislature.  The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment has a webpage that includes redistricting data and maps.

Irregularly Shaped District
District 3

Irregularly Shaped District
District 5

Irregularly Shaped District
District 8

· Eastern Nassau County
· Was Republican-leaning, but has swung toward Democrats during 1990’s
· Very wealthy district
· 92% white; 2% black; 3% Asian; 4% Hispanic


· Northeast Queens; northern Nassau and Suffolk
· Leans to Democrats
· Small minority population—mainly Asian and Jewish
· One of New York’s most affluent districts
· 79% white; 3% black; 11% Asian; 7% Hispanic

· West Side Manhattan; parts of southwest Brooklyn
· Covers Wall Street and crosses the Brooklyn Bridge
· Includes some of Brooklyn’s most impoverished areas
· Very Democratic
· Many politically active communities—gay, Jewish, minority, art, and student
· 74% white; 7% black; 6% Asian; 12% Hispanic

Irregularly Shaped District
District 9

Irregularly Shaped District
District 12

Irregularly Shaped District
District 17

· Parts of Brooklyn and Queens
· Originally drawn to exclude most Hispanics, but redrawn in 1997 to incorporate more of Queens
· Strongly Democratic
· 76% white; 3% black; 9% Asian; 13% Hispanic

· Lower East Side Manhattan; Brooklyn, Queens (parts)
· Created to form a Hispanic majority district
· Heavily Democratic
· 26% white; 12% black; 14% Asian; 49% Hispanic

· North Bronx, parts of Westchester County
· Middle-to-working-class district, with suburbs
· Heavily Democratic
· Drawn to take in large minority residential areas; parts are heavily Jewish
· 29% white; 38% black; 3% Asian; 28% Hispanic

Irregularly Shaped District
District 18

· Parts of Westchester, Bronx and Queen Counties
· Southeastern Westchester is very affluent
· District snakes down to include several Asian and Jewish communities
· Leans Democratic, but not overwhelmingly
· 74% white; 7% black; 8% Asian; 10% Hispanic

Contact Information

Debra Levine
Co-Executive Director
Legislative Task Force on
Demographic Research &
250 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10007
212/417-3127 Fax
[email protected]

Lewis Hoppe
Co-Executive Director
Legislative Task Force on
Demographic Research &
250 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10007
212/417-3127 Fax