Redistricting reform down to the wire

Michael Gianaris

June 07, 2011

The Legislative Gazette wrote an article about redistricting reform and the fact that a majority of New Yorkers support a nonpartisan redistricting process.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last Thursday indicates a majority of New Yorkers think creating a nonpartisan redistricting process for drawing state Senate, Assembly and Congressional lines is important, and those who have fought in Albany for years to achieve that end think it is closer than ever. However, a possible early primary next year could mean reform would have to be passed sooner, rather than later, to make a difference in the 2012 redistricting process.

"It's clearly the closest it's been in the six years I have been working on this issue, and I expect that we will see some progress," said Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, who has introduced redistricting reform legislation (A.3432/S.2543) to create an independent commission this session and in previous sessions.

The sentiment was reiterated by Dick Dadey, the executive director of Citizens Union, who said, "I can see the goal line where I didn't see the goal line a year ago. I can see how this could happen, and the key to this is the governor's continued public pledge to veto the lines drawn under the old system."

The existing redistricting process is conducted by a task force of four legislators and two non-legislative members appointed by legislative leaders. The process has been criticized as politically motivated due to the apparent conflict of interest created when lawmakers have the ability to influence the outcome of new districts that could hinder or help their re-election bids.

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has identified ethics reform, same-sex marriage and a property tax cap as top legislative priorities for the end of session, he has also pledged to veto any redistricting proposal created by the Legislature that mimics past efforts. Cuomo issued this pledge when he introduced his redistricting reform program bill (A.5388/S.3419) back in February, which good government groups have hoped would put pressure on the Legislature to pass the legislation.

Read the full article here.