NY redistricting plan goes back to drawing board after being rejected by lawmakers

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 4:58 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, Vt. (WCAX) - New York, like other states, is in the process of redrawing its political map, but what was supposed to be a bipartisan effort is now in shambles after state lawmakers Monday rejected the Independent Redistricting Commission’s proposal. Now, the group needs to try again, but compromise seems a long way off and their deadline is looming.

Redistricting the political make up of each state every ten years is to make sure everyone has equal representation on a state and federal level. Each district is made up of equal population numbers and those numbers are based on the Census

“Over the decade there will be changes as some areas gain population and some lose population,” explained Harvey Schantz, a political science professor at SUNY Plattsburgh.

New Yorkers voted in 2014 to form a bipartisan commission to redraw the maps while increasing transparency and avoiding gerrymandering. The ten members are appointed and are not current officeholders. But the IRC’s debut at redistricting has hit a roadblock. “There was always the anticipation that the commission would be deadlocked between Democrats and Republicans,” Schantz said.

The IRC was supposed to submit two maps, one for congressional districts and another for the state Senate and Assembly districts, but it didn’t. Instead, the Democrats on the IRC submitted two maps of their own, both benefiting them. Republicans on the panel did the same. “The commission could not agree on one set of maps,” Schantz said.

On Monday, all four maps were shot down by the Legislature. “This is a bipartisan rejection of the IRC maps. Hopefully, they can come back with something in the coming days or weeks and we will see what that entails,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones/D-Chateaugay Lake.

The IRC has 15 days to redraw the maps. If they miss the deadline or the maps are voted down again, the redraw is in the hands of the Legislature. “However, if people are aggrieved, if parties are aggrieved by the plan they come up with, then the plan could be taken to court and could be challenged,” Schantz said.

The urgency behind getting the new maps is linked to the election cycle. Primaries are in June and candidates need to know what their districts will look like and voters need to know who they can vote for.

Click here for more on the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission

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