A Clear Message for Reform Resonates During First of Scheduled Meetings Seeking Public Involvement in 2012 Redistricting Process

December 15, 2010

Senator Martin Malavé Dilan, Co-Chair of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, yesterday conducted the first in a series of public meetings to let the public and stakeholders weigh in on the upcoming 2012 redistricting process prior to the release of official U.S. Census results next week.
Yesterday’s meeting in New York was attended by numerous speakers including voting rights advocates, good government groups and civic organizations. Each addressed the need for reforming the redistricting process.
“The root of Albany’s problems is the lack of competitive elections, the result of decades of partisan redistricting which pits political incumbency against the public interest,” said Senate Democratic Conference Leader, John L. Sampson.  “Nonpartisan redistricting, as well as ethics and election reform will encourage voter participation and greater confidence in our government and those who seek to serve.”
Leading up to yesterday’s meeting, members of the Task Force have been conducting roundtables with key redistricting stakeholders including representatives from voting and civil rights organizations, faith based groups, bar associations, academia, and “good government” and reform organizations.
“The measure of our commitment to a fair and accountable redistricting plan for New York is the public’s ability to actively play a role in the process. Whether we turn the process over to them completely, as I have proposed, or ensure that each step of the process and all criteria considered, is open to public review, comment and influence, is a decision the public should make,” said Senator Dilan.
In an effort to reform redistricting and to make it more accountable, various state and local jurisdictions have been considering new redistricting goals, methods and criteria to ensure a more transparent, honest and objective redistricting process.
"Redistricting and reapportionment determines how every citizen and community will be represented at the state and federal levels of government for the next ten years. It will determine whether New York's diverse communities will have sufficient political strength to elect candidates of their choice. Fair and objective criteria should serve as the guiding lights of the 'redistricting" process'. The process should be transparent and the end result must, I insist, must be reflective of our goals of advancing justice and equality for all New Yorkers,” said Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (Westchester-Bronx).
Recent debate around the upcoming 2012 redistricting has focused on the need to reform how legislative lines are drawn. In this respect, the Senate is seeking public comment on additional ways to ensure that the process is conducted in a fair and transparent manner and that districts honestly represent New York residents.
“These meetings are but a part of the Senate Majority Conference’s commitment to openness, transparency, public access and input in New York’s congressional and state legislative redistricting process,” said Dr. John Flateau, Non-Legislative Member, New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment. “This process facilitates political representation and bolsters every New Yorkers’ voice in our democracy as the redistricting process moves forward.”
To learn more about the Senate’s redistricting efforts, goals and criteria, as well as public outreach efforts, visit redistricting.nysenate.gov.