“After decades of redistricting being dominated by partisan battles and gerrymandering, this year promised to be different. A 2014 referendum passed by voters gave the once-a-decade responsibility for drawing legislative and congressional district maps to a new “Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC),” with the goal of ensuring no region, special interest or political party gained an unfair advantage over another.
The IRC’s admission today that they were unable to reach agreement on a proposed map, and the release of two very different maps, one drawn by Democrats and the other by Republicans, is concerning. It suggests that the majority party’s true motivation is to drive this process back to the Legislature, where they can return to the behind-closed-doors gerrymandering process. The ruling party has little incentive to compromise through the framework of the IRC.
The people of New York State spoke out and said that they wanted an inclusive, transparent and bipartisan process. With the next round of hearings occurring in the weeks ahead, I encourage New Yorkers to participate and provide their input on these two proposed maps. Citizen involvement is the best defense against political insiders hijacking the process and acting in their own best interests, rather than in support of those they represent.