It happens every 10 years: first comes the Census, then comes redistricting. In the 2020 Census, New Yorkers came up short, by just 89 responses, and will, therefore, lose one Congressional seat. In 2014, New Yorkers voted for an Independent Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan group tasked with drawing up new district maps that would not favor one party over another.
As you can imagine in these highly divided times, they could not get the job done and, instead, submitted two maps, one representing the Republican commission members, the other representing the Democratic commission members. Now, it falls to the state legislature to make a final decision on what the map will ultimately look like.
Queens State Sen. Michael Gianaris has been around the redistricting block before, and he joins In Focus to talk about why, when other states are going all out to draw district maps that favor only one party, it’s so important for New York to get this right, to make sure all New Yorkers are included in the final districting plan, which will affect how we vote for the next decade.
He tells his own story of 2012 redistricting, when Republicans were in power and actually drew him out of his own district because, he says, of his vocal opposition to their plan. They then drew out a large part of his district, Northern Astoria, where he lives, so friends could not vote for him.
He tells In Focus he’s determined to make sure these maps represent everyone, especially communities of color that have been disenfranchised in the past. And he defines the worst practices of gerrymandering: packing, cracking and stacking.