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NEW YORK JOINT LEGISLATURE
LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON
DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH AND REAPPORTIONMENT
SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS

ONLINE PUBLIC HEARING
EVALUATING CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

IMPACTING REDISTRICTING IN 2022

July 15, 2020

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

 
 

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Joint Task Force Reapportionment, 7-15-2020

SENATORS PRESENT:

SENATOR MICHAEL GIANARIS, Co-Chair, Legislative Task Force
on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

SENATOR BRAD HOYLMAN, Chair, Senate Standing Committee
on the Judiciary

SENATOR NEIL BRESLIN
SENATOR DIANE SAVINO
SENATOR ANDREW GOURNARDES
SENATOR ANNA KAPLAN
SENATOR KEVIN THOMAS
SENATOR TOBY STAVISKY
SENATOR THOMAS F. O'MARA
SENATOR ANDREW J. LANZA
SENATOR PHIL BOYLE
SENATOR TODD KAMINSKY
SENATOR JAMES GAUGHRAN
SENATOR LUIS SEPULVEDA
SENATOR SHELLEY MAYER
SENATOR ZELLNOR MYRIE
SENATOR JAMAAL BAILEY

SENATOR GUSTAVO RIVERA

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ASSEMBLY MEMBERS PRESENT:

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ROBERT RODRIGUEZ, Co-Chair, Legislative
Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment

ASSEMBLY MEMBER KENNETH ZEBROWSKI, Chair, Assembly
Standing Committee on Governmental Operations

ASSEMBLY MEMBER SANDRA GALEF
ASSEMBLY MEMBER DAVID BUCHWALD
ASSEMBLY MEMBER HARVEY EPSTEIN
ASSEMBLY MEMBER PHILLIP PALMESANO
ASSEMBLY MEMBER ANDREW GOODELL

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ALICIA HYNDMAN

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INDEX

PANEL 1:

Blair Horner
Executive Director
New York Public Interest Research Group

L Joy Williams
Branch President
Brooklyn NAACP

Susan Lerner
Executive Director
Common Cause New York

Juan Rosa
Northeast Director
National Association of Latino Elected
and Appointed Officials

Lurie Daniel-Favors
Interim Executive Director
Center for Law and Social Justice

PANEL 2:

Jennifer Wilson
Deputy Director
League of Women Voters

Amy Torres
Director of Policy
Chinese-American Planning Council

Michael Li
Senior Counsel
Brennan Center for Justice

Jose Perez
Deputy General Counsel
Latino Justice PRLDEF

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79

85

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PANEL 3:

Jeff Wice 113
Professor
New York Law School Census & Redistricting Institute

Eddie Cuesta 118
Executive Director
Dominicanos USA

Tom Speaker 123
Policy Analyst
Reinvent Albany

Rachel Bloom 126
Director of Public Policy
Citizens Union

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(The public hearing commenced at 10:00

SENATOR MICHAEL GIANARIS, CO-CHAIR,
LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH
AND REAPPORTIONMENT: Good morning, everybody and
welcome to this hearing. I want to welcome
everyone who took some time out of their day to
join us on this important subject matter. A
little bit arcane, but important nonetheless as
it relates to our democracy and the districts
that we run under. We are embarking on a new
process in New York for redistricting, and one
that we���re all learning as we go because it���s
never happened before and it���s got a lot of
twists and turns to it, and so this is the first
step forward in that process to talk to some of
the experts, talk to some of the people who were
involved both in establishing this and are just
experts generally on the topic, so that we can
make some evaluations as a legislature to what we
need to do to make this work as efficiently,
productively and fairly as possible.

There���s been a lot of changes since we

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first established this process. Most notably, the
one that���s necessitating some reevaluation in
changes as the calendar when this reapportioning
process was initially set up, our state primaries
were in September, which fit easily within the
calendar laid out in the constitution for the
commission revealing its plans and the
legislature reacting to them.

Since that time as everyone knows, our
primaries have now been moved to June. The
petitioning process begins late February or early
March, and that has made the timing of the
existing constitutional provisions impractical.
So we thought as long as we���re reevaluating,
let���s talk to folks about what other changes are
important and necessary that we can make, as well
as talking generally about the commission process
and how we get that moving forward in the
timeframe that we have to work with.

I want to recognize my colleagues who
are here on the Senate side. Co-chairing this
hearing with me is the chair of our judiciary

committee, Senator Brad Hoylman, welcome Senator

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Joint Task Force Reapportionment, 7-15-2020
Hoylman. We are also joined by Senator Savino,
Senator Breslin, Senator Gounardes and Senator
Kaplan. Some of our members have through
redistricting processes before, for some it���s
their first time, so we have a good mix of folks
on both sides.

We also have with us our friends and
colleagues from the Assembly, and I���m going to
kick it over now to the chair of the Assembly
Government Operations Committee, it���s a committee
that I was actually the staff counsel for many
years ago. So it���s good be working with them from
this side as well.

And, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski has done
tremendous work in the Assembly, and I want to
welcome and thank him for joining us as well as
my co-chair on [unintelligible] [00:02:52]
Assemblyman Rodriguez and I���1l1 hand it over to
Assemblyman Zebrowski.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER KENNETH ZEBROWSKI,
CHAIR, ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON
GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS: Thank you, Senator

Gianaris. It���s a pleasure to be here with you

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Joint Task Force Reapportionment, 7-15-2020
today, all my colleagues and all of those that
are both listening and ready to testify. Also
welcome to senator co-chair, Senator Hoylman and
to my assembly co-chairs, Assembly Member
Rodriguez, great to be with everybody today in
this important topic.

I just have a few comments to make, and
then, we���ll get this rolling. Every ten years,
the nation undertakes the process of counting
citizens, it���s critical that New York State
receive an accurate count of its citizens and
apportion representatives in a manner that
results in equal and just representation for the
state. Next year, we will begin a new system of
apportioning legislative representation to people
in the state.

In 2014, New York voters approved
amendments to the New York State constitution
which changed the process for drawing legislative
districts. An independent commission of ten
individuals will meet to attempt to decide how to
best construct the representation of the millions

of diverse individuals that make up our state.

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We���re here in an uncertain time. The
results of the national census have been delayed
due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In times like
these, we need to be flex about and mindful of
our future.

Thank you to all of the witnesses that
agreed to testify today. We hope that your
feedback and recommendations on our upcoming
redistricting process will offer us some new
insight that may then to guide us through this
process.

First, on the assembly side, let me say,
I mentioned Co-Chair Robert Rodriguez. We also
have Assembly Member David Buchwald, Assembly
Member Harvey Epstein, Assembly Member Sandy
Galef with us this morning, and as additional
people join, I���11 announce them at that point.
Thank you, senator.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay, thank you,
assemblyman. We���ve also had some additional
joiners, you���ll hear us announcing the
legislators as they arrive. But we have been

joined by Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Toby

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Stavisky and make this a bipartisan effort we
have Senator O���Mara and Senator Lanza joining us
from the senate side as well. I���m sure others
will join in as we go.

Okay, so we���re going to move on to our
first panel, who I understand are all ready and
waiting. Each witness will get five minutes to
testify, followed by questions from the
legislators. And in our first panel, I will read
the names of and affiliations and please testify
in this order. We���re going to start with Blair
Horner from NYPIRG, L. Joy Williams from the
Brooklyn NAACP, Susan Lerner from Common Cause
New York, Juan Rosa from the NALEO Educational
Fund, and Lurie Daniel-Favors from the Medgar
Evers Center for Law and Social Justice, so
Blair, take it away.

SENATOR THOMAS F. O���MARA: Chairman, is
there some reason that my video is blocked?

SENATOR GIANARIS: Not that I���m aware
of. We���1ll take care of that, senator. Blair,
whenever you���re ready.

MR. BLAIR HORNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,

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NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP: Okay.
Can you hear me okay?

SENATOR GIANARIS: Yes.

MR. HORNER: All right. Senators,
assembly members, thank you for the opportunity
to testify on this important topic. This is my
first Zoom hearing, so if I seem a little
discombobulated, please bear with me or tell me
that I���m doing something wrong.

We���ve submitted our written comments and
I will summarize our views here, but first, on
behalf of NYPIRG, we commend the houses for this
hearing, and for the scheduled hearings to come
on a wide range of issues. It���s important that
the legislature reestablish itself as the primary
policy making body in New York���s governmental
system. These hearings and the action on a wide
range of issues are important and we applaud
those activities.

As you may know, NYPIRG opposed the
constitutional amendment in 2014 and our comments
today may touch on some of those concerns that we

had then and have now. But, the focus of our

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testimony is on what can be done now to deal with
the reality of New York���s untested redistricting
system in 2022.

There are a number of issues that we���re
concern about including the timetable, which is
already been discussed, which is now undermined
by the change in primary date, as well as the
impact the pandemic has had on the ability of the
census to deliver data to the states. Our
concerns are magnified by the fact this will be
the legislature���s first time working with the
detailed, complicated redistricting scheme.

Redistricting is highly charged without
adding a pandemic and a new law to the mix. If
the census makes its data available for
redistricting at the end of July, 2021, that will
give the commission virtually no time to draft
maps and make them publicly available for comment
in September, as the constitution provides.

The public hearings are important and
will inform the commission on weaknesses and
plans. They have to then incorporate relevant

recommendations and make their plan available to

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the legislature by January. The commission will
have to operate at warp speed to make that all
happen within five months plus.

So the pandemic has created real
logistical problems for compliance with the
constitution���s redistricting requirements. Added
to that is the candidates will be gearing up for
primaries, were gearing up for primaries in early
2022, or the legislature may still be haggling
over maps developed by the commission, or making
their own.

Proponents of the amendment anticipated
September primaries, so the new June primary date
timetable may leave candidates unclear as to
which districts they���re running in. Neither of
these problem can be remedied with constitutional
changes in time, we don���t believe. Statutory
budget moves can bolster the ability of the
commission to do its work, assuming that all goes
well with it.

The commission is based on the model of
the State Board of Elections, an agency notorious

for gridlock when deciding important issues. The

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current commission hasn���t yet jointly have chosen
its two additional members and has done nothing
that we can see to prepare for the daunting work
ahead.

One of the key reasons that we opposed
the 2014 amendment was our view that the
commission would never be truly independent. The
commissioners may act as agents of their
appointing authorities instead of the public
interest. Given the lateness of the action, the
limited ability to publicly hash out needed
changes, there seems to be not a lot of time that
can be done to amend the constitution that would
be consequential in 2022.

However, there is one area that could be
fixed in time. That would be to remove the
unconstitutional provisions adopted in 1894,
provisions that violate the one person one vote
requirements under federal law. But to change the
deadline for a second submission of the
commission���s plan by the end of February,
although it does say no later than, and that

could probably be fixed statutorily.

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But there are other areas that should be
fixed. But they may have to be for the 2030
redistricting cycle. We discussed those in our
written testimony, but two important ones are
eliminating the partisan redistricting commission
and using language akin to what the Congress uses
for map makers to make districts be comparable in
size, population wise.

Lastly, on a related issue, we think
that you should consider capping the number of
senators at whatever the number is that���s
appropriate, because, as you all know, the senate
that grown from 50 members in the 1930s to 63
now. So thank you for this opportunity to
testify. Again we applaud your interest in this
issue, and I���m done.

SENATOR GIANARIS: I appreciate it. Let
me just answer Senator O���Mara���s question of
earlier. I misunderstood his question. The
members��� videos turn on so they can be seen when
they are speaking or recognized and then just the
co-chairs and the panelists are on video. We���ve

also have been joined by Senator Kaminsky,

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Senator Sepulveda and Senator Boyle. And next we
have L. Joy Williams from NAACP. Welcome.

MS. L. JOY WILLIAMS, BRANCH PRESIDENT,
BROOKLYN NAACP: Good morning and thank you very
much for the opportunity to talk with you this
morning. The New York State Conference of NAACP
is submitting full written testimony, but I just
wanted to highlight a number of issues that the
NAACP are focusing now and will be focusing on
throughout this process.

For those of you who don���t know, I am
president of Brooklyn NAACP, but I���m also the
legislative coordinator for the New York State
NAACP Conference of Branches, which consists of
thousands of members. We have over 51 branches in
the State of New York, under the leadership of
our New York State Conference president, Hazel
Dukes.

I���m sure you will hear from me a number
of times throughout this process, not only on
this issue but on a number of different issues.
But there are some key pieces that I would like

to highlight as you begin this process.

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So, back in September of 2011, the late
Reverend Anita Burson, who was then second vice
president of Brooklyn NAACP, testified before the
committee and she began her testimony
highlighting the lack of diversity and minimal
representation of people of color, as well as
diversity in gender, both on the committee and on
the staff.

And so as you begin the process and as
the speaker before me mentioned, that we are in
the beginning phases of how this process will
play out, I urge you that as you are staffing up,
if you will, that, you focus on ensuring that the
entire operation of our redistricting process is
reflective of the great diversity of this state.

This should be a guiding principle, not
only for the individual staff, legislative aides
and others and I���m talking about even a person
making photocopies, but, also any contractors and
vendors that will be used for this process.

In addition, I ask and urge the elected
leaders to go a step further, and expect both the

elected leaders and commission to produce a

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report demonstrating not only your commitment but
your actions to this equity principle to ensure
that our redistricting process is reflective of
the people of state of New York.

Now, our redistricting process, as
previously mentioned will have a number of
firsts, it is the first time we will have an
independent redistricting commission. And as you
know, and as the previous speaker noted, the New
York State NAACP also opposed the commission at
that time.

But this is also the first redistricting
process that will be doing since the Supreme
Court struck down the preclearance directive
under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
This means that states like ours, which had
districts under preclearance, including Brooklyn,
will not have that preclearance principle to the
Justice Department or Attorney General.

Now, you may say given the current U.S.
Attorney General and Justice Department that we
may count that as a blessing. However, just

because the federal version of preclearance is on

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hold until Congress takes action, it doesn���t mean
that the state of New York should not have some
process and we are advocating having a
preclearance process with our state attorney
general, in the passage of a New York State
voting rights act that will ensure not only the
voting rights and representation of people of
color in state of New York.

The other issue that was highlight
highlighted in the previous redistricting
process, was that of counting those who are
incarcerated. As you know, NAACP attempted to
join on two lawsuits on this particular issue.
And it was something that was done in the
previous census operation and has not yet been
for this 2020 cycle. So I���m urging the
legislature to address this issue as well.

So, we are obviously behind the eight
ball as I wrap up. The pandemic that is
particularly ravaging communities of color, in
addition to a number of wholesome different
issues in terms of the rising costs of living in

New York, housing gentrification and all of those

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issues. And at the center of this will be making
sure that this process is inclusive and is not
just a set number of folks that is separate and
apart from the diversity of the state of New
York.

So I urge not only in the hearings that
will happen that are required to happen all over
the state, but that the elected leaders, the
committees and commission, also create a process
for active participation of the public, because
we know our communities, we know our districts in
creating the maps in the process that will go
forward to create a better New York. Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you so much, L.
Joy. Next, we have Susan Lerner from common cause
New York.

MS. SUSAN LERNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
COMMON CAUSE NEW YORK: Thank you very much. And
I want to join my colleagues, Blair Horner, in
thanking the legislature for this hearing and to
join in with the NAACP���s call that the commission
and all of its proceedings should be sensitive to

diversity issues.

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As you may be aware, Common Cause New
York drew the only set of statewide reform maps
in the last redistricting process. And as a
national organization, redistricting is one of
our key issues where we advocate across the
country for fair redistricting processes and we
are the organization which wrote and passed the
California system of an independent citizen led
redistricting commission process.

I���d like to point out that we did
receive a court ruling in 2014, which clarified
that the commission set up by our constitution
should not properly be called independent because
it really is politically appointed.

But, I do differ with Blair on the issue
of what can be done currently to affect
redistricting. I do believe that changes can be
made timely to our constitution which will
provide guidance to the commission, and improve
our process. And there are four areas that we
identify in our written testimony.

The first is of course the deadlines

which simply have to be changed. We recommend

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that the first set of maps from the commission go
to the legislature on December 1, and that
revised maps also have to be completed in
December. We recognize this is a very collapsed
timeframe with the late provision of information
from the census. But I believe that the
commission���s requirements in the constitution to
hold hearings around the state, and get input
from citizens should remain in place and that the
commission should be given the resources to
satisfy that requirement.

We agree with NYPIRG, the
uncontrovertibly unconstitutional language that
was placed in our constitution in 1894 and help
unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in
1964 should simply be removed. It serves no
purpose, it���s confusing and a good draftsmanship
requires that it should be removed.

We do advocate for some improvements to
the redistricting process which we believe would
improve and add some good redistricting
practices. We agree with the NAACP, the ban on

prison-based gerrymandering can and should be

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memorialized in our constitution. It is an
important public policy, and there should not be
any confusion regarding its application in any
redistricting process for our state.

We also believe that there should be a
standard set for population equivalence. Based on
our experience drawing maps, we believe that
standard should be plus or minus two percent to
give map drawers sufficient flexibility to
respect communities of interest and other
necessary standards for good redistricting.

And we also believe that there should be
some language changes to encourage new and fair
maps. We believe that the requirement that the
map drawers must start from the core of existing
districts really impedes an open and fair
redistricting process and should be stricken.

Finally, we believe that the language in
the constitution should be changed to set a fair
and politically neutral voting process for the
commission and for the legislature. As a matter
of policy, we do not support shifting rules of

procedure based upon the results, the political

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results of elections. We think particularly, in
this divisive time in our country, that that
precedent is a dangerous one and should be
changed so that, the rules apply equally
irrespective of election results.

To the extent that there is a concern in
a not independent commission, that one party or
another would take advantage, we believe
requiring that the approval of the final maps
must include the vote of at least one of the non-
affiliated members of the commission would
alleviate those concerns.

And I look forward to further
discussions of changes and improvements to our
redistricting process. Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you Susan. And
I want to thank all of the witnesses to being
incredibly timely to the five-minute requirement.
And next we���re going to hear from Juan Rosa from
the NALEO Education Fund.

MR. JUAN ROSA, NORTHEAST DIRECTOR,
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ELECTED AND

APPOINTED OFFICIALS: Good morning and thank you

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so much to Chairs Gianaris, Rodriguez, Hoylman,
Zebrowski and the committee members from the
Senate and the Assembly for providing us the
opportunity to testify on this important issue. I
am Juan Rosa, the NALEO Education Fund. We are
the nation���s leading nonpartisan organization
which facilitates full Latino participation in
America���s political process.

We have had a physical office here in
New York City for the last 25 years, in which we
have implemented multifaceted voter assistance
and vocational programming.

Because redistricting shapes the
contours of our [unintelligible] [00:23:25] of
democracy, we have been involved in several
national and state dialogues for the last two
decades about how to ensure that all
redistricting provide Latinos with a meaningful
opportunity to participates in the process. We
also believe that all redistricting must produce
maps which provide Latinos with a fair
opportunity to elect the candidates of their

choice.

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Back into 2005, our board of directors
articulated principles to guide our assessment of
redistricting whether lines are drawn by
legislature, a commission or some other entity.
In my testimony, I will address the extent to
whether New York���s current constitutional
provisions comply with our principals and the
impact of the delay in the delivery of census
data on the process and the Latino community.

First, our principles require that all
redistricting comply with the U.S. Constitution
and the federal Voting Rights Act. Generally, the
criteria for redistricting set forth in New
York���s Constitution appear consistent with this
goal. We are concerned that the provision
prohibiting the drawing of districts that
discourage competition could under certain
circumstances make it more difficult to draw
districts that comply with the DRA.

And we will be watching carefully as the
state���s redistricting process moves forward to
see if the provision of competition interferes

with the DRA compliant districts.

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One of our key principles is the
application and selection process for members of
a commission must result in a commission that
reflects the geographic, racial, ethnic, gender
and age diversity of the political jurisdiction.
We will note that there is language in the
Constitution that requires to the extent
practical that New York���s redistricting
commission achieve this goal. Yet, we���re
extremely dismayed that New York���s redistricting
commission -- I���m sorry, I lost my place here.
That no one Latino was selected for any of the
first eight seats in New York���s commission.

Given that Latinos compromise nearly 20
percent of the state���s population, the commission
cannot reflect the state���s diversity with an
absence of Latinos and without a significant
increase in Latino representation. Thus we urge
the first eight commissioners to select qualified
Latinos for the remaining seats.

We will also note that the constitution
requires legislative leadership selecting the

commissioners to the extent practicable, consult

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with voting rights advocates and voters from
underrepresented communities. To the best of our
knowledge, this consultation did not occur with
respect to the Latino community. In the future,
it is critical that Latinos have a voice early on
in the selection process.

Our principles finally call for
reasonable requirements for the qualifications
and conduct of commissioners to ensure they avoid
conflict of interest and the appearance of
impropriety. While we very much understand the
importance of avoiding conflict of interest for
any commission, we suggest that the restrictions
in New York���s Constitution may prevent civically
engaged Latinos from being able to serve on the
commission for past activities which do not
create a meaningful risk of conflict of interest.

For example, having served as a
professor administrator at either CUNY or SUNY at
some point in the last three years would bar
anyone from being appointed to one of the last
two seats under the current restriction of the

state employment. Thus, we suggest that these

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restrictions in the constitution be reexamined to
determine the extent to which otherwise
qualified, civically engaged Latinos have been
prevented or deterred by the commission service,
for these restrictions.

With respect to the potential delay in
the delivery of resident data by the census to
the state of New York, Congress is considering
the legislation which would provide for a 120 day
delay in the delivery of census redistricting
data to states, which would mean the New York
might obtain its data as late as July 15, 2021.

Given that the state���s commission can
complete its maps by as late as January 15, 2022,
it is possible for the commission to meet its
deadline, even with the delay in delivery of
data. However, the commission must take several
steps to ensure the public has a meaningful
opportunity to participate in the process, given
this delay. For example --

MODERATOR: Time has expired.

MR. ROSA: Oh, thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: You can finish up,

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Juan, if you just have a couple more sentences.

MR. ROSA: Yes, I���1l finish up this one
sentence. Thank you, senator. Actually, no, we
will just submit the rest. Thank you, senator.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay, thank you.
Next, we���re going to hear from Lurie-Daniel-
Favors from Medgar Evers Center for Law and
Social Justice.

MS. LURIE DANIEL-FAVORS, INTERIM
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL
JUSTICE: Hello, good morning. I apologize as
lawn mowers literally just started blowing
outside my window. Hopefully you are still able
to hear me well. Greetings to all, and thank you
for the opportunity to present today. My name is
Lurie Daniel-Favors and I am the interim
executive director and general counsel at Center
for Law and Social Justice, a unit at Medgar
Evers College at CUNY.

At the outset, I would be remiss if I
did not state that if this body is considering a
constitutional amendment to make a correction and

eliminate the minority party detail plan which is

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currently contemplated in the redistricting
commission provisions of the state constitution,
I would be very happy to comment on that and
would encourage your investigation of that
option.

As it now stands, we don���t see how a
minority party veto aids black voters and voters
of color across the state, and to the contrary,
this provision is actually disempowering to
members of these communities. And if this body is
considering such an amendment, it should be
publicly announced as soon as possible so that we
can provide comment and we would welcome the
opportunity to do so.

During our 35-year history, CLSJ has
consistently worked to defend the voting rights
of New Yorkers of African descent and other
racial minority New Yorkers. We have led or co-
led numerous historic voting rights advocacy
initiatives or litigation across the state, the
details of which are contained in our written
testimony.

As it pertains to the upcoming

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redistricting cycle, we continue to advocate that
new districts be drawn such that they comply with
the Voting Rights Act one person, one vote rule.
While the Supreme Court adopted a stricter
standard for congressional districts than those
employed for state and local districts, equitable
access to the ballot requires the state
legislature to seek to achieve population
equality among the state legislative districts.

Thanks to improvements in computer
software, population equality is far more
possible today than it was even ten years ago.

And this is particularly notable in
light of the nationwide calls for racial equity
and justice following the killings of members of
our community like George Floyd, Brianna Taylor,
Ahmaud Arbery and the many others who have lost
their lives due to systemic racist violence.

It would be untenable to face another
decade in New York State with small districts
upstate and larger districts downstate,
particularly when these disparately drawn

districts disenfranchise wholesale black

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communities and communities of color ona
statewide basis.

The requirements of the Voting Rights
Act must also be adhered to. As noted by my
colleagues the SCOTUS Shelby decision gutted the
Section 5 provision preclearance provision of the
VRA and with that demise, New York State must
pass a state Voting Rights Act which contains a
preclearance provision into law, particularly due
to the fact that several New York jurisdictions
were covered by the VRA Section 5. And underlying
reasons for that coverage have not been
ameliorated and a state Voting Rights Act is
necessary. According to Section 2 of the Voting
Rights Act, redistricting plans must not unfairly
[unintelligible] [00:31:04] minority voting
strength and they should not be drawn such that
they reduce the number of minority, majority
minority districts. Nor, such that the minority
population percentage is reduced to such a level
that it makes more challenging for minority
voters to continue electing candidates of their

choice.

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In light of these requirements, and the
history of the racially polarized voting
[unintelligible] [00:31:23] in New York,
including New York City, when drawing minority
majority districts, we maintain that the minority
voting population should be at leave 55 percent
to ensure that minority voters will be able to
elect candidates of their choice.

The reformed state redistricting process
must be transparent and open, which means that
the commission should make public all of its
redistricting criteria and procedures. There
should be public access to redistricting data
within weeks of its receipt from the state by the
Census Bureau, and there should be as many public
hearings across the state as possible with
several densely populated area of the state.

This is particularly significant as the
commission must hear directly from the people,
especially during this heightened age of mass
civic engagement. This is how we ensure that the
process is informed of the concerns and values of

community leaders, residents and activists. Those

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voice must not only be welcomed, but they must be
centered throughout the process.

To these ends we urge that you make your
data publicly available and that you advocate for
the redistricting commission to hold as many
public hearings as possible.

It must also be noted that contrary to
the provisions the New York State Constitution,
which calls for the members of the commission to
reflect the diversity of residents of this state
with regards to race, ethnicity, gender, language
and geographic residence, there is currently a
stunning lack of diversity to the current
composition of the commission. Current membership
only includes one man and one woman of African
descent and does not include a single Asian or
Latinx member. Racial, gender and geographic
equity must be enforced for all redistricting
bodies and their staff.

Additionally, as noted, legislators must
advocate to maintain the end of prison
gerrymandering. While prison gerrymandering was

addresses in 2010, it has not yet been resolved

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for the 2020 cycle and we���re demanding that this
commitment to abolishing prison gerrymandering
for the purpose of redistricting continues. And
we ask that our legislators do the same. And to
be clear, this is a part of the process that can
happen now. The prisons are well aware of the
Jurisdictions from whence incarcerated persons
come and they do not wait until 2021 to receive
additional data. And we encourage for you to
advocate for them to start now.

We also know the commission has not been
empowered by a budget and cannot functionally
operate. The commissioners are volunteers and
need to have administrative backing behind them
in order to be effective. Upon current knowledge,
it remains an open question as to whether or not
the legislature will allow the commission to use
the LATFOR agency or if the legislative body will
retain control over LATFOR for its own use. We
are encouraging you to give it over to the
commission so that the redistricting process has
the full benefit of the decades of knowledge held

by this agency.

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Thank you and we look forward to
remaining engaged with you and all interested
parties to ensure the equitable drawing of maps
that reflect the true diversity of New York
State.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Lurie, I
appreciate it I also appreciate the dynamic
camera work and the mobile nature of your
testimony. And you reminded me. I should have
apologized in advance. We���re all in New York, so
if anyone hears helicopter noise, or airplane
noise, welcome to Queens.

For questions, we���re asking the
legislators that are interested to raise hair
hand and I don���t mean actually raise your hand. I
mean hit the raise hand button on this Zoom
application. And then you���1l be called on. We���re
going to alternate between the Senate and the
Assembly. And I will begin with a question.

There were a couple of witnesses that
had made reference to unconstitutional provisions
of the constitution in Article 3 as it relates to

things that are over 100 years old that have

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Since been ruled invalid by various rulings of
the Supreme Court and otherwise. So, I guess this
is a question for Blair Horner. Can you just
outline what those provisions are or at least
some of them, so we get a sense of what we���re
referring to?

MR. HORNER: Well, in the state
constitution, there is language that basically
allocates legislators based on geography instead
of population. And, the Supreme Court, as Susan
mentioned, in the 1960s struck down those
provisions for the country, and said you should
adhere to a system of one person, one vote.

Now, I don���t know why that language is
still in there. I mean, you would think it would
have occurred to people in 2012, that having dead
letter language in the state constitution doesn���t
make any sense and they should take it out. I
never got a good explanation as to why it was in
there other than they were too busy. So, the
fundamental issue really is the issue of basing
legislative district on something other than

population.

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SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. Thank you
very much, Blair. And I think that Susan Lerner
mentioned as well. Do you have anything that you
want to add to that?

MS. LERNER: Yes. In my written
testimony, I specified the provisions that I
believe should be stricken, in Article 3, it���s
Section 4D and specific language in Section 5.
And, we also recommend that language in 4C, which
references state constitutional standards, should
be stricken.

I fear that the unconstitutional
language was left in and this additional
reference made to muddy the waters should there
be any litigation on further maps. And so we
believe for clarity���s sake and just, you know,
good drafting, that the unconstitutional
provisions should be removed, along with the
reference language.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Susan.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Senator,
thanks. I want to first mention that we���re joined

by Assembly Member Palmesano and Assembly Member

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Goodell, and our first assembly member to ask
questions will be Assembly Member Buchwald.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER DAVID BUCHWALD: Hi,
thank you, Chairman Zebrowski and to all the
chairs and everyone for putting together today���s
hearing and to all of the panelists who
presented. First, just as a, [unintelligible]
[00:37:13] for clarification, I think a statement
was made that there are no Asian Americans on the
commission and IT think that���s incorrect. I think
one of senate majority leader appointees
qualifies.

But my question is more broadly, and for
any panelist who wants to answer, a lot of the
remarks up until now have been about what changes
can and should be made to the state constitution
following up on the last constitutional
amendment. As everyone knows, our state
constitution, the process for amending it is a
multistage process that takes at least a few
years, couple of passages through the state
legislature and then a vote of the people of New

York.

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So, my more immediate question is, with
the upcoming redistricting, under the existing
constitutional provisions, what proposals do
folks have as to how to address the concerns that
have been expressed without yet getting to the
further constitutional amendments, because we���re
going to have a section of redistricting that
affects us for the next decade, and I���d like to
hear the non-constitutional amendment solutions.

I do take note of some of the points
made about appropriate appointments for the
remaining commissioners and so forth, but in
terms of the process the commission actually uses
within the framework, that is laid out as is now,
what are the steps that you think the commission
itself, or the legislature should be taking to
make sure that it is as productive and fair of a
process as possible? And I direct that to whoever
wants to take up the question.

MR. HORNER: I���11 take an initial crack
at it. I mean the -- you know, as Susan mentioned
earlier, there are a number of issues that you

could do constitutionally, but you could pass

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legislation to I think strengthen the prison
gerrymandering issue more clearly. And one of the
complaints that I���ve heard is since it passed in
2010, the constitutional amendment was passed in
2012, and did not include it that that might be
an opportunity for mayhem. And so clarifying that
that, in fact, is the law of the land, although I
do know if you need a law to do that, but
certainly some mechanism to make it clear to the
commission they should include it would be one.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD: Mr. Horner,
could I just ask, is the existing statute, did it
expire or is it still on the books and applies?
And --

MR. HORNER: It���s still on the books.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD: And can you
just explain then why you believe the existing
statute, which as far as I know was adhered to in
the 2010 or 2011 redistricting, why that isn���t
sufficient?

MR. HORNER: Well, no, I think it would
be sufficient. I mean I have heard people argue,

that it is an issue because the passage of the

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constitutional amendment occurred after the use
of it. But, again there���s no -- you���re right, the
commission should follow the law and that is the
law. The deadlines, you might be able to
statutorily move them up beyond, although the
constitution obviously trumps any statutory
deadlines.

It���s important that the commission act
more quickly. I agree with Susan, that the
deadlines that would have to be moved up. I think
you could also argue to change the, through
statute, to change the population variance. Right
now under the Supreme Court decisions, the map
makers have up to ten percent range in terms of
population size, and as mentioned by one of the
other testifiers that the senate districts in
particular, the senate district have large
populations, vis-a-vis upstate senate and the
opposite is true in the Assembly, so those are
issues that you can deal with I think
constitution -- I���m sorry, statutorily.

But, I think it���s really going to come

down to the commission and the resources it has

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to getting the job done. And the commission is
not fully appointed yet. It does not reflect the
diversity of the State. And they���re going to have
a hell of a time to try to meet the various
deadlines that are in the state constitution,
even if you were able to move them up.

And so I think that���s really where the
action is in terms of statutory changes or
budgetary changes for the commission.

MS. LERNER: And I would like to add
that I think some of the things that we are
proposing including, as Lurie Daniels-Favors
mentioned, the minority veto provisions, even
though they need to be changed constitutionally,
they could through an immediate process be
changed before the final votes on the maps are
necessary. So, even with a constitutional change,
I believe that there���s significant ways in which
that constitutional provision can be timely
changed.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD: Thank you,
everyone. I see my time is up.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you,

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assemblyman. We have also been joined by Senators
Shelley Mayer, Gustavo Rivera, Jim Gaughran and
senator Zellnor Myrie. And I would go to Senator
Myrie for a question.

SENATOR ZHELLNOR MYRIE: sorry, I was
just waiting to be unmuted. Firstly, good morning
to everyone and thank you to all of the
panelists. I wanted to direct this question
primarily to Lurie and L. Joy, but obviously
welcome responses from the rest of the panel. My
concern is mostly around the communities of color
that will be impacted by a census undercount, and
no protection from Section 5, or it used to be
known as Section 5 in the federal VRA. And I���m
wondering if you can speak to what the
implications might be if we do not have that
protection and there is an undercount in our
communities, what that means for redistricting,
what that means for the political power of
communities of color all across the state.

MS. WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I���m going
to start off by first in our written testimony

talking first and foremost, as you mentioned,

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about the census. And while obviously, the census
has been significantly impacted by the pandemic
that we are experiencing and that we all
experienced here in the state of New York, I
think that it is unacceptable that organizations
like ours, who are all volunteers, organizations
were able to quickly determine how we can
continue to do our census outreach and operation
in the midst of a pandemic to ensure our
communities were counted. However, the state
process has been stunted.

And so, I find it very disappointing
that a state with its resources, with the plan
and execution that we are still, the State is
still on hold in terms of how it���s properly and
I���m talking this is separate from whatever
advertisement that may exist. Advertisement is
different from outreach. It is a method of
outreach, but it is not the sole determinant of
how we ensure that people are counted within our
communities.

And so the first piece that I would say

about the census is obviously before we even get

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to a redistricting process, we also have to make
sure that people in New York State are properly
counted. We saw and have experienced for the last
decade what an undercount means in terms of
resources for our community and our federal
government. We already send more money than we
actually give back. Why give the federal
government additional ammunition to keep our
money? So, that���s one.

And so, I urge the legislators to call
the state and operation to task on what is
happening and what is the quick method, because
if volunteers are able to quickly come together
via Zoom and figure out how we can execute a
census operation to ensure our communities are
counted, by all means the state should do so.

And to your point, your later point in
terms of what this means, this also means that if
we do not have an accurate count, when we get to
redistricting, that creates this fight and this
tension for resources and for seats that
additionally as the political connotation in it

where we���re then putting groups against each

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other in terms of political representation.

And so, it has disastrous effect for
people of color. You can go throughout the
history in the State of New York on how many
times the NAACP had to sue and black people in
general have had to sue in the State to ensure
that we have proper equal political
representation in this state.

We did that on local levels across the
State, in terms of the expansion of New York City
Council, expansion in other councils and school
boards across this state. And so if we did not
start from that premise, and then also make sure
that we have proper representation and equity
throughout the process, we are setting our state
up again to not only receive our fair share from
resources, but further create political fighting
within the State, and then, again, have a whole
other decade where we are scrapping for
resources. And who that hurts is always people of
color that end up being at the bottom.

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: I would also add

that, with the absence of a Section 5

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preclearance provision, the redistricting, the
portions of our state that were covered by
Section 5 would have had to submit their
redistricting plans for evaluation and approval
prior to implementation.

The fact that we do not have a Section 5
now means that those same jurisdictions, and
quite frankly others that were not covered but
all honesty should have been, are not going to be
held to the same standards of equity as it
pertains to redistricting outcomes. And so, echo,
in addition to what Joy said, there���s just a
practical matter of needing to have that
additional referee on the field, who���s going to
make sure that the plans that are created are
going to center the same principles that govern
the application of Section 5.

And it���s to be noted that the Section 5
covered those portions of our state because the
need was ongoing. It had not been ameliorated.
The issues that brought these portions of our
state under the coverage of section 5 are still

in a position where they require that level of

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coverage and supervision. And so, I think having
a statewide version is going to be fundamentally
important, not only for redistricting but
ensuring access to voting rights going forward.

And I would finally add it would be
extraordinarily helpful if the $70 million that
had been pledged to the state organizations and
municipalities, for census outreach to go beyond
the media activism that Joy mentioned were
actually released. There was an entire process
the governor announced in January. I actually
spoke at the announcing conference and we were
very excited about that and there has been radio
Silence on those funds ever since. So we need
those funds to be distributed now, like two
months ago, and that in and of itself would be
Significant as it pertains to helping to ensure
that the first portion of this issue, the
accurate count work was not going to be
undermined.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you both.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Senator,

thanks. And I���1l take the next question and for

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Panelist Favors, you mentioned briefly and said
you would expand upon it, that you felt that the
minority veto would or could disenfranchise
minority communities. Just so we have a complete
record, could you expand on that? You said you���d
be happy to expand on it, but I only heard that
one sentence.

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: Yes, are you able to
hear me?

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Yes.

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: Okay. So yes, so the
minority veto as noted by myself and others, is
something that because voters of color across the
state are not equitably enrolled in various
parties, the minority veto is something that
could really work to harm communities of African
descent, communities of color across the state
because, it is essentially a provision that is
not going to recognize the needs and the sanctity
of those communities to have their preferences
and to have their engagement with this process
recognized and respected.

And, because the minority provision

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essentially, now that we have two members or both
houses, I���m sorry, both the Assembly and the
Senate are both led by members of the same party,
it essentially cedes the approval of the
redistricting plans to the party that is not in
power. And, so, that is a provision that will
work to harm communities of color, particularly,
communities of African descent simply because it
does not allow for the equitable consideration of
the concerns that go into determining where
boundary lines should be drawn because, voters of
color are not equitably enrolled across those two
parties.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay, next on the
list, I have Senator Brad Hoylman.

SENATOR HOYLMAN: Thank you, Senator
Gianaris and thank you for bringing us together
here along with my Assembly colleagues and it���s
appropriate that we���ve heard already from Senator
Myrie, the elections chair, who represents a
district that looks like a steam shovel. I think

people know about those lines in his district.

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I just wanted to follow up on the census
question. Because it���s of great concern that not
only are communities not possibly being counted,
of course, the black and brown communities which
is of great concern, but, also, the census itself
may be delayed due to COVID-19 and I was
wondering if any of the panelists had thoughts on
how the delay of even an inaccurate count of the
census will have an impact on redistricting
moving forward.

And, my district, some of my
neighborhoods, you know, have responded to the
rate of like, less than 40 percent in some
neighborhoods due to COVID-19. Any thoughts from
any of the panelists on that point?

MS. WILLIAMS: I think this is where an
issue I believe that Susan and others mentioned
this where the state needs to be nimble and make
sure that we have dates that sync up, this is
things that we can do now to the process. I know
that the federal government has put out an
adjusted timeline as it pertains, right now, so,

us taking action on the adjusted timeline as it���s

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been put out right now and then what are some of
the things that we can do leading up to and in
preparation for the redistricting process.

So, I think the timeline certainly has a
direct effect and particularly as we talk about
municipal elections that happen all across the
state and as people are running for lines next
year that will have to change, you know, further,
so. Those are -- the calendar is something that
we have to pay close attention to and be nimble
enough that the session should not end, that the
year should not end without the legislature
addressing these issues as it pertains to the
schedule right now.

MR. HORNER: And, senator, just to add
one thing on that. I mean when you think about
it, by the way, it���s the huge unknown. I mean who
know what the pandemic brings us, right. So as of
now, you could have the commission dealing with
the month of August when generally, people take
vacation, and the first half of September, to get
their act -- to get maps ready and materials out

and everything, to hold public hearings across

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percent the state and that really is hard.

Now they could be doing a lot of work to
prepare for that in advance. And, that���s why
getting the commission up to speed quickly
matters. But the census timetable, assuming it���s
the same next summer, gives it essentially
including work weekends, somewhere in the
neighborhood of 45 days to get the work done and
that���s going be really hard.

The timetable that���s contemplated in the
constitution was based on a non-pandemic, which
of course why would they expect otherwise, and
primaries being in September. And, those are real
problems in terms of the commission getting your
work done.

MS. LERNER: You know, there is no
question that the commission is going to be
squeezed in terms of the timeframe, but I would
agree with Blair that advanced preparation is
absolutely essential. You know, there will be
some surprising demographic shifts, but,
demographic trends are pretty obvious through the

ACS during the entire preceding decade. And there

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are ways in which proper staffing and preparation
can ensure that the commission is ready to draw
down the demographic data, do the necessary
evaluation, and have clear guidance in advance
from the commission in terms of the standards
which are to be applied in the map drawing.

As Lurie pointed out, we have advanced
technology. We had it in the last cycle. It is
usually the process of negotiating the politics
of the district lines that take more time than
the actual application of the technology to the
data.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Okay, and, I
want to first mention that, Assembly Member
Hyndman has joined us and our next assembly
member, that���s looking to ask questions is
Assembly Member Goodell.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ANDREW GOODELL: I���m not
sure if you can hear me or not.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Yes, yes, we
can.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL: Okay. Thank

you. I had a question for Ms. Daniel-Favors. You

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mentioned that the minority voters should be
represented at 55 percent if possible. Now, as
you know, there are two ways to eliminate
representation by members to the minority. One is
by dilution, reducing them by gerrymandering so
that they don���t have a controlling influence. The
other approach though is the opposite, by
consolidating them all into one district so that
the remaining districts that are around there,
are clearly not under any influence of being
taken over, if you will, or having a minority
representative. How do you balance those two
conflicting approaches, and, what are your
recommendations on how we approach that? I would
point out by the way, in a competitive district,
it���s not your basic results in winning or losing
an election, it���s your swing voters, how do you
balance those?

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: Well, I think as
just noted by Susan, the capacity to have access
to technology really does help us to draw
districts that are neither packed nor cracked. I

think that there is a world that exists between

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those two goals that when applying principles of
equity and when applying principles of justice in
line with the principles that have been outlined
for us by the courts, we are definitely able to
draw districts that are reflective of the
diversity of the state, and that empower minority
communities to be able to have an equitable shot
at electing candidates of their choice.

And I think this is not something new,
this is something that we have seen done before.
And so long as we���re adhering to those same
principles, and we���re centering the needs of the
community and employing the access that we have
now to technology, which in 2010 was allowing for
equitable drawing of districts, and has only
improved since that time, I do not think that we
are stuck between the two. I think it���s a false
choice to look only at packing or cracking a
district.

And there are certainly tools available
to us now, particularly in light of having the
access of time that we do right now with

forewarning and proper preparation, that we apply

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the judicial principles that should be guiding
these decisions, along with the technology to
ensure that these districts are equitably drawn
in ways that empower minority communities to have
access to the ballot and to have access to
putting candidates into office reflective of
their two choices.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL: Would it be
your recommendation then you look at all of
demographic factors that you���ve mentioned,
including communities, neighborhoods, school
districts, things of that nature, trying to group
people of similar interests and concerns
together, rather than perhaps using an artificial
threshold like 55 percent that would be packing
or, a lower threshold?

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: Well, I think if
your 55 percent is informed by the principles of
communities of interest, both existing and
emerging communities of interest, then I think
that you can strike gold. District plans should
not divide populations and communities that have

those common needs and interests as you noted.

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And they can be drawn in ways that not just only
consider census data, but they could also be
informed by demographic studies, by surveys and
sociological economic data to determine the
shared social and economic characteristics of
each community.

As we testified in 2010, some of those
social and economic characteristics that should
be considered include, but are certainly not
limited to, income level diversity, educational
backgrounds, housing patterns and living
conditions, language and cultural
characteristics, employment and economic
patterns, health and environmental conditions.

All of these elements and pieces of data
should be used to inform how these districts are
shaped and they should be used to inform that 55
percent threshold that we are suggesting.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL: I would agree
with all of the comments that you made with the
exception of an artificial percentage. And, I
agree that our mission should be to avoid either

cramming or cracking. And so, I would hope that

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as we move forward, we don���t set artificial
criteria, but look at all of the diverse factors
that you mentioned, which I think are incredibly
important.

I have one other question for any of the
panelists. There���s a lot of talk about the
minority veto that���s contained in the
constitution. As you know, we for the first time
in many years, at least a decade, have split
houses with the Senate and the Assembly. We saw
what happened when the Senate was under
Republican control. We had small districts in New
York, I���m sorry, small districts upstate, large
districts downstate. The flip occurred in the
Assembly. My district was the largest in terms of
population. And the assembly districts in New
York City were as small as they could be so they
could squeeze out a couple of extra members.

If we eliminate the requirement that
both parties agree that the redistricting is
fundamentally fair, what would you suggest we do
to protect the minority parties from being

gerrymandered out of existence?

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MS. LERNER: So, in my written
testimony, I suggest that the way in which to
alleviate those sorts of concerns for
gerrymandering by either party in their own self
interest, would be to ensure that the final maps
must contain, the majority which would approve
final maps, must include at least one
unaffiliated member of the commission who, one
would assume, does not have a particular
political favorite. And therefore, would be
representative of a class of voters who remain
pretty much unrepresented in our process, which
is the large number of unaffiliated voters. And
so, I think that that would ensure a fairer and
more open process in the final maps.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL: Thank you, my
team time is up, but I would note a lot of
unaffiliated voters are anything but
unaffiliated. Their only unaffiliation is their
registration and, if we wanted to follow that
process, we might want to consider having the
commission representatives reflect the percentage

of registered but unaffiliated voters. Thank you

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very much for your comments.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you,
assemblyman. And next we have Senator Gustavo
Rivera.

SENATOR GUSTAVO RIVERA: Thank you.
Thank you, senator. And thanks, everyone who is
here today. My question is for Ms. Williams, a
pleasure to see you, ma���am. You mentioned
previously that the state needs to engage in
additional outreach and participation for
redistricting process. So I wanted to have you
expand on that, beyond the hearing, what exactly
do you mean?

MS. WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think this is an
important point because I believe that people
believe that the extension of outreach is just on
the hearings, that you come and testify, and,
that���s outreach. We talk to the community. And,
rather than having a process in which people are
active participants in the process of drawing
lines, and I���11 do this by giving an example.

In a previous timeframe, I served ona

local community board for nearly a decade,

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serving as a vice chair of our land use committee
at that time, where we actually rezoned Bedford
Stuyvesant. And in doing that process, there is
the official process that happens, right, where
the council actually puts it out and do the
guidance and things of that nature.

But we did additional steps in the
summer, before the process started. And those
additional steps were walking through the
neighborhood, talking to people and sort of
creating -- and looking at what is existing, how
people were using the space in different ways, in
order to create the zoning that we now have.

The state can do a similar process and
the commission and elected leaders should do a
Similar process as it pertains to redistricting.
Certainly, I���m not suggesting y���all walk the
state of New York, although that wrote be a great
reality show.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: I commit to
walking in my district, certainly, that���s like
you can walk around in my district.

MS. WILLIAMS: Right. But that we

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actively invite people as Lurie mentioned, sort
of in this heightened period that we are of civic
engagement and actively invite people that as we
are preparing to draw maps and draw district
lines, that you begin to give the commission,
give that additional information on the
communities that exist within the districts in
order to keep them together as we are using the
mapping technology.

So yes, technology is great, and
everyone who knows me knows that, you know, that
is something that I invest in and use. But,
mapping software cannot tell you the break of a
community that may be like, you know, different
people living together or certain housing
buildings and things of that nature, right. And
so, I think that the commission, the elected
leaders have to invite the public beyond public
hearings, to actually participate in the process.
I know that last time, we had draw your own maps,
and that kind of software online, but actively
invite people to participate in the process of

drawing lines of their community for their

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political power because people vote based upon
their community. They vote based upon the
resources and the things that they need within
their community.

So making a redistricting process absent
that community, absent that outreach, is taking
out that life, that engagement that happens on a
daily basis and also happens as it pertains to
our politics.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: Would you agree
then that also, that there needs to be a
commitment from the commission that such
participation is actually going to be taken into
account in a real way, so it���s not just
ornamental?

MS. WILLIAMS: I would say, that is
Similar to my call in my testimony as well about
making sure that the entire process has focused
principles of equity and diversity. So I don���t
want to also, you know, hear commission members
or elected say yes, we���re committed to diversity,
like I want to see a report specifically on how

the staff, the vendors, and everybody that is

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involved in this process, you know, demonstrates
that commitment.

So, a line that I���m similar to say
saying, I don���t want to just see the mural in the
press conference, I want to see the actual work
that you did to demonstrate your commitment to
those principles.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: Okay. Thank
you. That���s my time. Thank you, senator.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Assembly
Member Epstein.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER HARVEY EPSTEIN: I want
to thank the panelists. I want to thank the
chairs for holdings this important hearing. I
mean this is a really important topic and I think
so few people actually know anything about
redistricting. And I guess really, this goes to
the crux of what we���re trying to do is how do we
engage people in a really meaningful conversation
and where do we find people where they���re at. And
I���m wondering if we should be using existing
systems and structures in place, like our CUNY

and SUNY systems, our schools, you know, our

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places of higher education, our places of worship
instead of just having this traditional like come
to a public hearing and talk about redistricting.
And really how do people dig in deeper so we can
have meaningful change and meaningful input. And
I���m not sure it���s geared to any specific panelist
but I���d love to hear people���s feedback.

MS. LERNER So, in the New York City
redistricting, Common Cause developed a series of
workshops along with partners to engage
communities in a mapping exercise and thinking
tangibly about what districts should look like.
My favorite one was one we conducted in Sunset
Park, where we have to have translators for both
Spanish and Chinese.

I would certainly recommend to all of
the elected officials who are here today that you
could be leading similar discussions in your own
districts. It was shocking to me for the New York
City redistricting, that virtually none of the
city council members engaged their constituents
in that sort of a dialogue. And I would hope

that, you know, the legislators would want to

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interact with their constituents, provide some
services in helping them tangibly engage with the
way in which people live, work and gather in
their particular areas, which is a mapping
process.

We are more than happy to share our
experience with any legislators in leading those
sorts of discussions, and that could then be
handed to the commission. The commission itself
should be encouraged to develop community mapping
resources, not just technology, but guidelines
for how to facilitate that sort of discussion.

MS. DANIEL-FLAVORS: But also I���d like
to add to that, thank you so much for that,
Susan. At the Center for Law and Social Justice,
we, in collaboration with the members of the New
York Voting Rights Consortium, Asian-American
Legal Defense Fund and Latino Justice, engaged in
a unity maps project over the past two cycles,
where we came together for exactly that purpose.
Not only to involve the community but to ensure
that the community was clear about what the

redistricting process is, add a voice in helping

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to determine, as Joy mentioned, where do our
communities start and end, and it was one that
was able to uphold principles of equity as it
pertains to representation and fairness.

And so I think this is a process that
certainly is one that various organizations have
been involved in. And it���s something that I think
elected officials certainly could be doing more
as it pertains to engaging your community
members.

But organizations that are represented
here and others that will be testifying later are
already in the process of having those
conversations. Support for that work would be
wonderful. And being clear about value that
communities bring to this process in the ways
that allow them to determine what their
communities look like I think is very, very
important. And so that unity maps project is a
project that is ongoing. And it���s something that
we will be doing again in this round, and they
were literally able to create a set of New York

State maps that respected and built upon the

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strength of the historically recognized racially
protected groups under the Voting Rights Act. And
we were able to increase the number of districts
from [unintelligible] [01:12:21] Asian
congressional district and kept communities of
interest intact and avoided that typical cracking
and packing of voters that I had mentioned
earlier.

MR. HORNER: If I could just add one
thing, on the colleges you referenced, I mean we
have affiliates at a bunch of SUNY, CUNY and some
private schools. And we found getting people
engaged is hard because it���s a pretty esoteric
topic. And just by reading the state
constitution, the rules are I guess could be best
described as complicated.

But we, the last two cycles, we ran the
name that district contest, which was a big hit
on college campuses, one that became reasonably
well known was Abraham Lincoln riding a vacuum
cleaner in the cycle of 2002. And it was also a
way though to sort of get people engaged and to

talk about what happens.

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There was a district in, I think it was
in 2002, where the map was drawn to cut out
Hakeem Jefferies out of an assembly seat that he
was seeking to run for. And I think we all know
who he is now. So there���s certainly ways to do
it, but the maps are the tool, and getting it
from the esoteric to real life has been certainly
for us the challenge. We���re planning another
contest next year.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: Thank you. I
think my time is up.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay. Thank you,
assembly member. Next senator, Tom O���Mara.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER THOMAS F. O���MARA: Okay.
I think that���s set now. Is that right? Can you
hear me?

SENATOR GIANARIS: Yep.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER O���MARA: Okay. Thank
you. And thank you to the panelists that are here
today on this important topic, and I look forward
to the next two rounds of panelists as well. I
would note for the record that we did not receive

a witness list for these witnesses until a

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quarter to 10:00 this morning, when this hearing
started at 10:00. The witnesses have each
referenced their written statements submitted.
The minorities have not received those written
statements. So I hope we do at some point and
we���ll be able to follow up with questioning of
these witnesses if we deem it necessary.

Further, each of the panelists and each
of the members that have spoken so far have
discussed their concerns over the timeline here,
the compressed timeline because of the census
being delayed.

However, while money has been
appropriated in this year���s budget for the
funding of the Independent Redistricting
Commission, the majorities of the legislature
have not released that money to the commission,
therefore, they cannot hire executive directors,
they have no resources to have an initial meeting
and they have no resources to hire staff.

I just find that unconscionable in this
compressed time frame that we���re talking about,

that these resources have not been released. The

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commission needs to get together because they
need to pick two independent commissioners from
amongst themselves. That needs to be done and
there needs to be hiring of executive directors
and staff. I would like the panelists here to
please comment on your thoughts on why this
funding has not been released, and do you think
it���s important that that money be released as
soon as possible so that the commission���s work
can commence. Thank you.

MS. DANIEL-FAVORS: I guess I would just
offer I do not know why the funds have not been
released. It is untenable. And quite astounding
that we are at this point of this process
embarking on something this significant and the
body charged with shepherding us through the
process has not been properly funded. And I will
leave it there.

MS. WILLIAMS: I will add that, you
know, I understand, and given the pandemic that
everyone iS experiencing, that there are shifts
and delays in all of our operations, and so I

understand that. But here���s where I think we can

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move forward on this is I think the hearing today
and in inviting us to participate and to express
the concerns and also the principles that the
commission, that the legislature and others will
need to have in place in order to move forward is
important.

But again, I know for a fact that
government can move quick when it decides it
wants to. And so in this instance, I think this
is one issue, recognizing the timeline,
recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on
all of us, on all our normal operations and on
our community operations, that we can quickly
come together and that government and our
leadership can quickly come together to execute a
plan that we can begin to hire and execute an
operation that will ensure that the state of New
York has a fair, equitable census and
redistricting process.

And so while, yes, I stand in agreement
with Lurie and others that we are behind, I also
know that with everybody committed to move

forward, we can do so.

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MR. HORNER: I���11 just add, I guess from
our perspective, yeah, the commission should get
moving, the money should flow. Hopefully the
hearing will act as a stimulant for that to
happen. But as, senator, I don���t know if you were
here for my opening comments, but we were not big
fans of the commission in the first place. I have
to admit I am somewhat skeptical, but certainly
there���s no reason for them not to get moving and
the money to flow and to hire the staff and then
we���ll get to see what happens with them. There���s
a lot of work that needs to be done.

We talked about getting the public
involved. And there���s no reason why the
commission can���t do some of that, even before
they get the census dated to start collecting the
kind of feedback that the Senate and Assembly is
seeking today.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER O���MARA: Thank you. I
would further note that none of the commission
members are testifying today. My understanding is
that they have not been requested to testify. My

understanding is that Speaker Heastie���s

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appointment, Elaine Frazier, has specifically
requested to testify today and has been denied. I
am somewhat skeptical of this hearing as a whole.

I am concerned with the lack of moving
forward with the funding for this commission, the
fact that the commission is not involved today,
and I���m skeptical that the majority of the
legislature want the commission to fail, so
therefore the legislative majorities can then
draw the lines themselves. Thank you, Chairman.
Nothing further.

SENATOR GIANARIS: thank you, Senator
O���Maraa. I will note that the testimony gets
uploaded to the senate website as we receive it,
so if you���re interested in reviewing any of that,
it���s available instantaneously and I myself, as
the co-chair of this hearing, only got the
witnesses list last night. So sometimes it���s not
a conspiracy, it���s just logistics working
themselves through.

I believe that���s the last legislator
with questions so let me thank our first panel

for their time and their input and I will hand it

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over to Assembly Member Zebrowski for the second
panel.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Thank you,
senator. Our second panel, I���1l announce the
names and give our folks running the hearing
logistically the ability to get everybody up and
running. We���1l have Jennifer Wilson from the
League of Women Voters, Arva Rice from the Urban
League, Amy Torres from the Chinese-American
Planning Council, Michael Li from the Brennan
Center and Jose Perez from Latino Justice. So
when everybody is up and ready, we will start
with Jennifer Wilson from the League of Women
Voters.

MS. JENNIFER WILSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR,
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: Hi, can you guys all see
and hear me? Okay. Fantastic.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: We can.

MS. WILSOM: Great. Well, thank you
Senators Gianaris and Hoylman and Assembly
Members Rodriguez and Zebrowski for the
opportunity to testify today. I think it���s great

that we���re starting this process so early. My

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name is Jennifer Wilson. I���m the deputy director
of the League of Women Voters of New York State.
And you may remember the League was actually one
of the strong advocates in favor of 2014
constitutional amendment that created the new
redistricting commission.

And we believe that the amendment was a
Significant improvement to the redistricting
status quo that had the potential to
fundamentally change elections in New York State.
And we were not the only ones who believed this
to be true. New York State voters were the ones
who ultimately voted to approve the
constitutional amendment.

Although we realize that some of our
good government partners may be seeking to amend
this process, our overwhelming interest here is
that the process the people supported, be given
the chance to work in the most transparent and
inclusive manner possible. And we���re primarily
concerned with ensuring appropriate
representation on the commission, keeping

meetings open to the public, and allowing for

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ample community input, and providing assistance
to the commission in a manner that allows them to
remain independent, but also empowers them to
fulfill their mission.

And in addition to those procedural
concerns, we do recognize that there is an issue
with the timing with respect to the release of
the proposed maps and the June primary
petitioning process. We don���t believe that that
needs to be a constitutional fix. We believe that
can be done statutorily through the legislature
to shorten the timeline for submitting the maps
to the legislature. It doesn���t have to be done
through the constitution, especially considering
if we did do it through the constitution, that
wouldn���t be in effect until January lst of 2022
and at that point it���s almost too late to have
that make any sort of impact.

But outside of that, one of our chief
concerns is still representation and in June of
this year, we had actually sent a letter to all
legislators and commission members that are

currently seated commission members urging them

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to consider the need for greater gender and
racial diversity on the commission.

Currently there is only one woman and no
Latinx members that have been appointed to the
ten-member commission. And, of course, we know
that women make up more than 50 percent of New
York���s population and NALEAO has cited that more
than 20 percent of New Yorkers identify as
Latinx. We supported NALEAO Education Fund and
also Latino Justice in their call for Latinx
representation and believe that in order for the
commission to truly be representative of all New
Yorkers, these final two commissioners must
embody New York State���s population.

We are also very concerned over the
undefined operational and procedural standards of
the commission. We would urge the legislature to
ensure that the commission adhere to open
meetings laws and that the commission receive
appropriate operational support that allows them
to remain independent while they work to fulfill
their mission.

In 2020-2021 budget, you allocated

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$750,000 for the commission through the
Department of State, which Senator O���Mara
mentioned previously, and we were very happy to
see this budget allocation, but we were very
confused as to why it was being made through the
Department of State, considering that the
commission is really supposed to work alongside
the legislature and there really isn���t supposed
to be any sort of oversight or input from the
governor.

We assumed that the allocation would
have been paid out through the legislature
because of this. And the commission is
responsible for doing pretty everything itself,
as Senator O���Mara mentioned, hiring its own
staff, setting its own meetings, facilitating its
own meeting space. And it could really benefit
from assistance from an already operation a
agency or the legislature.

In California, their Independent
Citizens Redistricting Commission receives early
assistance from the Secretary of State there. The

California Secretary of State provides temporary

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staff and meeting space until the commission is
fully up and running, and we think here in New
York that could work really well, too. So either
you or the Department of State could offer some
sort of meeting space, some sort of temporary
staff until the commission could be fully set up.

And finally, I want to drive home the
importance of the ensuring that the commission
stays on target with regard to appointing its
final members and getting starting planning its
meetings. Recent commissions, including the New
York State Complete Count Commission and the New
York State Public Campaign Financing Commission
encountered serious issues because of delays in
their operations and a lack of staff assistance.
I���m not going to belabor those points, but I will
say both commissions started with the best of
intentions and were derailed because they didn���t
have any staff and they had very little
assistance.

And that concludes my testimony. I want
to thank you all again for holdings this hearing

and we hope that you will review our full

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recommendations. We���re very excited to see what
our first independent redistricting commission
will produce and we look forward to working
alongside LATFOR and the new commission on
ensuring ample public participation, public input
and transparency in the state process. Thank you.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Thank you
very much. I announced second Arva Rice from the
Urban League. I���m not sure I see that panelist
up. I���1l give it a second, if not, we���ll go to
the next person and come back.

MODERATOR: Not present.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Not present,
okay. Next up we have Amy Torres from the
Chinese-American Planning Council.

MS. AMY TORRES, DIRECTOR OF POLICY,
CHINESE-AMERICAN PLANNING COUNCIL: Thank you.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you to chairs and
members of both committees for the opportunity to
testify today. I���m just mahogany sure my volume
is working. Yes, it appears that it is, for the
opportunity to testify today. CPC is the nation���s

largest social services organization for Asian

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Americans. We bridge social services to social
change for over 60,000 low-income immigrant and
Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers
each year. Our community members come from more
than 40 countries, speaking 25 distinct languages
and dialects. We provide over 50 contracted
programs in 35 sites throughout Manhattan,
Brooklyn and Queens. But we also serve a citywide
population that commute to our site there.

Our services range from support,
education [unintelligible] [01:27:41] empowerment
and [unintelligible] [01:27:42] programs often
[unintelligible] [01:27:43] in language
[unintelligible] [01:27:45].

In addition to our direct services work,
CPC conducts nonpartisan civic engagement and
education across our sites each year. We���ve been
very humble to join with many other organizations
testifying today on census outreach awareness and
education. And so for these reasons we feel well
poised to comment on the impacts of
reapportionment in our communities and again, we

appreciate the opportunity to share our

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recommendations.

I want to review a little bit some of
our experience and some of what we���ve been
looking at for self-response to date, and then
share a few top line recommendations of ours. The
neighborhoods that CPC serves and the communities
that we serve, these are communities that are
historically marginalized and alienated from the
political process. Before the census self-
response period began, the federal bureau���s own
analysis found that Asian Americans and Pacific-
Islanders were 55 percent less likely to fill out
the census, 38 percent unfamiliar with the census
and 41 percent concerned that the census would be
used against them, forecasting that APIs would be
the least likely of all immigrant groups to
respond.

And indeed, in our own census outreach
and awareness efforts, we found that many of
these sentiments have only deepened between the
xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies that have
come out at the federal level, particularly once

the implementation of public charge happened,

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which was very close to the start of the self-
response period, as well as the rising hate
crimes and related incidents in the preceding and
early months of the COVID-19 pandemic where even
before cases were defected in the United States,
Asian Americans and particularly Chinese
Americans reported verbal harassment, public
shunning and customer discrimination at Asian-
serving businesses.

So as of July 8th, the July 8, 2020
reporting period from the bureau, Asians in New
York City overall lagged below the citywide self-
response average. The citywide response rate for
Asians is growing over time, but majority Asian
tracts in certain neighborhood remain
Significantly below city and borough wide
averages.

For example, in South Ozone Park in
Richmond Hill, which is home to significant South
Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities response
rates are over ten percent behind city and
borough wide averages. We see similar lags in

Brooklyn, which has as borough has historically

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Page 89
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gone undercounted and in neighborhoods like
Bensonhurst and Sunset Park and Sheepshead Bay.
They���re also falling significantly behind
citywide average, which is behind the nationwide
average as well.

And when we look outside New York City,
we know new migration trends in asylee and
refugee resettlement show that Asian American
communities are growing, particularly in regions
where those communities haven���t historically
settled, so Greater Utica and Rome, Buffalo,
Albany, Syracuse and Rochester. And so we
understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has cause
both necessary operational and unintended delays
to census operations and response rates, so we
really want to issue two initial recommendations.

One is encouraging the final moment
point of remaining seats to be timely and more
reflective of communities across the state and to
commit to a robust public participation schedule.

As already mentioned, this is a new
process. It���s untested. But the hope is that with

the right composition and engagement of the

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public, the resulting map will more closely
reflect the voters. The racial and gender
diversity of seated commissioners has raised
flags for advocates, a lot of which has been
mentioned already. And without tokenizing the
identity of commissioners appointed to date, we
hope that the existing appointees will consider
filling the final spots with commissioners who
are reflective, whether that���s by geography, by
residency or experience of diverse and
marginalized communities.

That���s impossible to deal with two
remaining seats, but as Ms. Williams mentioned in
her testimony, there are also aides and staff
engaged in this work and we hope for a
transparent process so that those individuals
more closely reflect communities of color and
minority and marginalized identities.

We also urge a commitment to a robust
public participation schedule and process. At
this moment, community-based organizations and
civic associations are stretched extremely thin.

These groups already face limited resources, even

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in the best of times, but even more so as
austerity budgets have forced many of our
organizations in response to the economic
downturn to downsize. And as these groups meeting
rising service demands and priorities in their
communities, we���re finding less and less capacity
to be able to challenge decisions and weigh-in in
the public process so we really encourage, as
many of my colleagues earlier testified, a
process that invites the community in, in ways
that are easy for them.

And that may mean going beyond the
minimum number of geographic hearings to not only
meet those required geographic minimums but also
to bring together community and interest groups
that have been deeply involved to date. The
community surveys that happened during the unity
map process, which were described earlier come to
mind. Other organizations like CPC were part of
the Asian Community Coalition on Redistricting
and Democracy, the ACCORD Coalition and these
invited the public in, in ways where we could

block-by-block understand what the process would

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mean for us and put in meaningful engagement not
just from experts but from actual community
members themselves.

So we���re thrilled to witnesses this new
process. We appreciate the opportunity to
testify, and we���re humbled to do so amongst so
many great and amazing advocates. Thank you.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Thank you.
Next up, we have Michael Li from the Brennan
Center.

MR. MICHAEL LI, SENIOR COUNSEL, BRENNAN
CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thank you. Thank you to the
committees for this opportunity to testify. New
York will face a number of challenges when maps
are redrawn in 2021, both because of COVID and
because it will be using a new system to draw
maps for the first time, and I want to talk about
four challenges in particular.

The first is, as several other people
have mentioned, redistricting will be delayed
because of COVID. States normally get the census
data that they use to draw districts in February

or March after the census. That schedule was been

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pushed back because of census delays and it could
potentially could be pushed back further because
of the ongoing COVID pandemic elsewhere in the
country.

But right now what those delays mean is
that states won���t get the data until mid-June to
July of 2021, which means that map-drawing
effectively will not to be able start until late
summer at the very earliest.

That will make it is virtually
impossible for the commission to submit
meaningful draft maps by the September 15th
deadline in the constitution, and it may be hard
for the commission to meet the January 15th
deadline for submitting final maps to the
legislature. And those dates may need to be
adjusted in some way.

And also because the New York process is
iterative, the legislature could reject the first
set of maps, if they are not approved, then the
commission will have to draw a second sets of
maps and they also -- it will have time to do

that but that will bump up very closely against

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the filing deadline for the 2022 primary and that
may need to be moved. In an outside world, it���s
possible that the data of the primary might have
to be moved or you might want to consider that to
allow a robust redistricting process to take
place.

And the reason that you particularly
want a robust redistricting process relates to
second challenge, which is that New York has to
unwind some fairly bad maps from last decade,
particularly in the legislature where on the
Senate side there���s a significant bias in favor
of republicans on the map because, as some
speakers have already talked about, the under
population of districts upstate, the
overpopulation of districts in the New York City
area.

The map was legal but it pushed things
to the very edge of legality. And by some
measures, New York City could support up to two
additional senate seats, if you were using the
aggressiveness of those population variances. So

something similar happened on the Assembly side

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but it didn���t really affect control of the body
as much.

The third challenge is significant
demographic change in New York. New York has
grown this past decade, but barely compared to
other states. The state, in fact, has lost over
620,000 white residents, while the black
population has grown a little bit. The state, the
fact that the state is growing at all is duty
increases in its Latino and its Asian
populations, mostly in the New York City and the
downstate regions of the state.

Right now the state is the projected to
lose one congressional district. It may, it would
lose more if it weren���t for that Latino and Asian
growth. The state���s electorate has also become
considerably more diverse. The white citizen
voting age population has decreased by about
50,000. Meanwhile, you have about 200,000 more
black voters, 290,000 Asian voters and a whopping
540,000 Latino voters. In other words, all of the
increase in eligible voters this last decade was

attributable to people of color, which gets to

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the fourth challenge.

Well, let me stop there. Because of
that, I think it���s important to get public input,
and that���s something that can happen right now.
When undoing these gerrymandders and figuring out
what the map should look like, it���s really
important to get public input and public feedback
and that���s something that the commission could
absolutely do now and start hearings around the
state in order to get that public input.

The fourth challenge which, I will
mention just briefly is to make sure that the
commission is robustly funded to be able to do
its work. I realize that���s a special challenge in
this current fiscal landscape, but the process
will not work, especially for the first time out
for the commission if the commission doesn���t have
the resources to have field hearings and to have
adequate staff and to be able to respond to the
community.

So with that, thank you again for this
opportunity to testify. We���re happy to follow up

on any of these issues.

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ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Thanks very
much. Next up we have Jose Perez from Latino
Justice.

MR. JOSE PEREZ, DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL,
LATINO JUSTICE PRLDEF: Good morning, everyone.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify.
Senator Gianaris, Hoylman, Assemblyman Zebrowski
and Rodriguez and other elected officials. On
behalf of Latino Justice PRLDEF, we were founded,
some of you may remember us more as the Puerto
Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund founded
back in 1972. Democracy, civic engagement, and
access for Latinos to be able to participate in
the electoral and democratic process have been
cornerstones of our work since our founding
almost 50 years ago.

I think you heard references in the
first panel to litigation involving the
application of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
to redistricting here in New York City. That was
lawsuits brought by a group of racial civil
rights groups known as the Unity Coalition.

PRLDEF back in that day was among the leaders in

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those two lawsuits Herron v. Koch and Gerene-
Valentin v. Koch, which dealt with the city���s
attempt to adapt new municipal districts without
first getting preclearance from the Department of
Justice.

The courts enjoined the primary days
before the September primary back in 2011. We
have a long history of continuing to engage in
voting rights and redistricting litigation. After
the last round, after in 2011 we participated
again with our Unity partners at the Asian-
American Legal Defense Fund and the Medgar Evers
Center Law for Social Justice, enjoining and
intervening in the Favors lawsuit again where
LATFOR had not yet drawn congressional districts.

Our unity map, which was largely a joint
community-driven effort respecting communities of
color, communities of interest, not attempting to
disenfranchise, but working united to preserve
our communities and afford them their opportunity
to elect candidates of their own choosing was
largely adopted by the federal court balk in

2011-12.

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There was a second phase to that Favors
litigation or Favors 2 as it was called, which I
think Michael referred to, again, the attempt to
add a senate district, a 63rd senate district was
drawn notwithstanding that all the population
growth was downstate and in the Bronx and that���s
where an additional senate district should have
been drawn. However, it was drawn up in the
Albany Capital District area. Although the court
ultimately sustained that district, again it was,
as I think Michael alluded to, on the cutting
edge of passing constitutional and legal muster.

Going from there, so in terms of going
forward, and you���ve heard already this
repeatedly, and I want to thank Jennifer on
behalf of the League of Women Voters for the
letter that they sent and made reference to this,
the fact that our elected leadership has failed
to appoint or nominate yet one Latino among the
first eight appointments, its supposed so-called
independent redistricting commission, is a
travesty. How could this happen in today���s day

and age? It���s inexcusable.

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I appreciate and applaud the efforts of
some of those that are this call, sitting on the
panel, Assemblyman Rodriguez, Sepulveda and
others who have joined with some of the other
panelists. You heard from Juan Rosa and the
NALEAO Educational Fund. You will hear from Eddie
Cuesta from Dominicanos USA. We have joined
together to express our outrage in the failure of
our elected leadership to recognized and include
Latinos in this political process. And that���s
what it is. It���s not independent. It���s political.
Let���s get real. Let���s change the name as Susan
Lerner mentioned earlier.

We have joined with our partners in
sending letters. We���ve identified, we���ve done the
homework of looking for the proverbial needle in
the haystack, looking for those, are there
independent Latinos in New York State? Well, we
found at least five eminently qualified that
we���ve identified and provided to the leadership
and to the commission. And we urge members of
both houses, the leadership, to consider and do

everything in your power so that the existing

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eight members fairly evaluate, assess and vote to
support the appointment of a Latino to this
commission. Failure to have a Latino, and you
have two independent spots right now. They should
be permitted to testify, they should be included
in order that we have a voice in this process.

The other things I wanted to mention is
there are some changes, again that were touched
upon by the first panel, Susan Lerner, I know
Common Cause is supporting. One thing was not
mentioned in terms of changing some of this
outdated, old language in the constitution, there
is currently a term called excluding aliens still
in language in Article 3, Section 5.

As a Latino Civil Rights Legal Defense
Fund uniquely cognizant of the diversity of
immigrant statuses of our communities, we want to
ensure that all New Yorkers counted and included
during reapportionment and not limited to voting
age population. The Supreme Court included that
everyone counts. One person, one vote, as Justice
Ginsburg eloquently cited in the Evenwel case. So

we urge that that language excluding aliens which

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is more reflective of the administration and the
politics emanating from Washington, that that
should not be countenanced by a state as
inclusive and diverse as New York.

So again, I would urge transparency. I
would urge inclusion, respectful of communities
of color and communities of interest, and not
Withstanding the Shelby County striking down of
the Section 5 preclearing, the principles of the
Voting Rights Act Section 2 still apply and
communities of color and minority communities
rights must be respected. Otherwise,
organizations such as Latino Justice will
continue to be in business and back in the
courts. Thank you.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Thank you
very much. And I want to thank the panel for your
testimony today and for your insights. We do have
an assembly member who wishes to ask a question.
Assembly member Harvey Epstein.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: Again, I want
to thank all panelists on really good questions.

And Jose, to you, what do you think we need to do

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to push, to ensure that the Latino get
appropriate representation on the commission, and
you know, the things that you think we otherwise
should be doing to ensure the diversity of
representation across this state to ensure that
we include those voices that are being excluded?
Is it a letter to the governor? Is it something
you guys need us to do? Or do you feel you've
bean pushing on your own and you think that
you���re going to be successful?

MR. PEREZ: We, again, there have been
its sent by -- and not just Latino groups, again,
groups such as the League of Women Voters also
reached out and have identified this, Assemblyman
Epstein. What I think is again was alluded to in
the earlier panel, for in the future, inclusion
in the process, why weren���t we invited to be part
of the discussions on these things. If this is
going to be an independent redistricting
commission, maybe we should revisit, you know,
this is not an independent redistricting
commission if the political leaders are

appointing the individuals.

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Are we going to be part of that
discussion? We can make suggestions. We did the
work and we���ve identified candidates, which whom
I understand are being evaluated and perhaps then
being considered, but given it���s the existing
eight members that vote upon them, you as an
elected official on behalf of your constituents,
communicate with the existing commissioners. They
have to do that. Communicate this to Speaker
Heastie, technically the leader of your house,
that this is imperative that they consider and
answer, you know, identify suitable candidates.

We did homework. We spent hours and we
searched and we found at least five, so we made
it easy. We identified people. Lawyers, I���m a
lawyer, right, doctors, community leaders. It���s
imperative that they be able to bring their life
experience.

The other part of it is language. I mean
everything is in English. Where is the bilingual?
We���re going to be multi-cultural. Language
accessibility has to be recognized, notice of

these proceedings, notice of when their review of

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candidates being considered has to be
multicultural, culturally sensitive and language
accessible.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: So you're
saying that the materials that they���re publishing
are not accessible in multiple languages?

MR. PEREZ: Well, if they were, I mean,
this is going forward, again, with the initial
appointments, there were no public notices that
the speaker or the senate leaders were
considering who they were accounting. Were there
meetings? Were we -- we were not invited.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: Right.

MR. PEREZ: If there were meetings for
consideration. So that���s something. Were members
of the House, members of the Assembly or the
Senate included or asked to weigh in or to do
this? Probably, I think not. So again, if you
were not aware of that, then clearly you were not
apprized, or saying can you make suggestions it?
It should be an inclusive process. Folks, the
members of the Assembly and the Senate should be

able to make recommendations and you all,

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representing your constituents and hearing from
advocates and organizations such as ours can
share our insights or comments or make
suggestions and really make this a true
democratic participatory process.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: So you're
saying some kind of like public notice for, hey,
this is a commission, we want applicants that
express the diversity of New York and have a
deadline for people to apply, to submit and then
have a pool that they could go to.

MR. PEREZ: Right. That would be more
akin to a true independent, citizen independent
commission, much as California and some other
states have adopted, where folks can apply
publicly. But if it���s going to be in the existing
structure, again then our leaders I think need to
hear from their constituents and their members.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: Right. Well,
very helpful. Thank you for testifying and being
here today.

MR. PEREZ: Good to see you again, my

friend.

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ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN: You too.
Alright. Bye-bye.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. Next, we
have Senator Gustavo Rivera.

SENATOR RIVERA: Thank you, senator. Let
me turn on my video here. It���s not allowing me to
start the video but I���11 I guess I���11 speak until
it does. You all can hear me, correct?

SENATOR GIANARIS: Yes.

SENATOR RIVERA: Good. All right. So
this is actually to, there we go. This is to, I
guess the CPC, Latino Justice and Brennan Center,
I guess you can all chime in. You mentioned both
we���re talking about Latino, Latinx, Latino
communities and AAIPI communities, but also some
of their undercounts is obviously a concern that
was shared by the first panel. And I certainly
share it. In the communities that I represent,
the undercounted is definitely, we���re behind.

But can you say more how that may affect
the existing districts in the future and also, so
future ones that are drawn that retain kind of

core of prior districts? Can you talk a little

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bit about how that would break down. CPC maybe
first?

MS. TORRES: Sure, I can go first. Thank
you, Senator Rivera. So in our, testimony we
pulled some analysis that the Asian American
Federation had done, which was very helpful to
our understanding of where counts are to date.
And I mentioned some neighborhoods in Queens
where the count is significantly behind the
citywide self-response rate.

In that same area where we have a high
and dense population of South Asians, Indian
Americans and Indo Caribbean Americans is also a
place where some of those, the core parts of
those communities are actually split into four or
five assembly districts. And so when we think
about the potential for undercount, the existing
core of -- the core of existing districts and
understanding that some of the undercounted
communities are on the margins of those
districts, the undercount serves to further
marginalize them so they continue that fracturing

effect.

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And so I don���t have the analysis of what
the full count of other communities is that
district is in front of me right now. But I think
our concern is that without a full public
participation process where one, for those of us
who are continuing to work on get out the count
efforts to make sure that the same organizations
remain at the table and those same community
groups remain at the table so that when we talk
about, line by line, where these communities live
that there���s a full public record that reflects.

And also we need to understand that many
of these communities that are facing undercounts,
it���s also because of a lot of historic
displacement that these communities have
experienced but there���s also going to be
Significant displacement as a fallout of the
COVID-19 pandemic.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: Got you.
Anybody else want to chime in? Obviously, you���ve
covered it, you���ve covered it well, Ms. Torres.
Thank you. And thank you all for being part of

this process. Thank you, senator.

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SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, senator
Rivera. In the absence of a member of the
Assembly, we also have Senator Tom O���Mara.

SENATOR O���MARA: Thank you, Chairman. I
just have a follow-up question for I think it was
Jose, who was speaking regarding candidates that
have been put forward for the two open commission
spots and who was evaluating those. I���m not aware
of any candidates that have been put forward by
any of the groups that are testifying here today.
But I guess I would ask if you know who those
individuals are that have been submitted and who
they���ve been submitted to.

MR. PEREZ: Senator, Dominicanos USA,
NALEAO Educational Fund and Latino Justice
identified five. We issued a letter, I believe,
in early June, again, critiquing the failure to
have a Latino appointed to the commission. As
part of that, it���s a public press release. A
letter was sent to both the Puerto Rican-Hispanic
Task Force and the legislative leadership in both
the Assembly and the Senate and the Governor as

well.

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And in part of that letter, we also
identified five candidates that we had vetted and
cleared. So when I say perhaps in terms of, I
don���t want to get into semantics but we
identified or put together a short list that we
had already identified and cleared five
individuals who are independent, independent
registered voters, non-Republican, non-
Democratic, and identified these as potential
candidates for consideration. And it is my
understanding that the leadership has been, that
those names have been shared and are considering
them.

SENATOR O���MARA: You had --

MR. PEREZ: But that release, that
letter, the list, that is public, so you should
have. I���m happy to send it to you. It���s
publicized by all the organizations that I
mentioned earlier.

SENATOR O���MARA: Okay. Do you think it
would have been a good idea to perhaps have those
candidates maybe testify at this hearing today?

MR. PEREZ: Possibly. Again, the

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candidates themselves, and when I say -- and just
to go back, when I say the leadership, it was
sent to both the majority the minority leadership
and we���ve had discussions with both the minority,
the Republican leadership, as well as the senate
and the Assembly Democratic leadership so it���s
both houses. This is not a one side, given that
there���s two final spots to be filled. Whether
these candidates, given, if they are not being
idea or doing that, would they share I think the
outrage that I expressed earlier that not a
Latino could do that, to convey that, if you need
repetition, then that would clearly be helpful.
SENATOR O���MARA: Okay. Thank you very
much. I���m set here.
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, senator.
ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: All right,
well, I want to thank the panel again for your
testimony today. In the absence of any other
senators or assembly members, Senator Gianaris,
I���1ll1 kick it over to you for the third panel.
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, assembly

member. And for our third and final panel of the

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day, we have Jeff Wice from New York Law School���s
Census and Redistricting Institute, Eddie Cuesta,
from Dominicanos USA, Tom Speaker from Reinvent
Albany and Rachel Bloom from the Citizens Union.
We will begin with Jeff Wice.

MR. JEFF WICE, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK LAW
SCHOOL CENSUS & REDISTRICTING INSTITUTE: Okay. I
thought I was live on screen. Sorry. Thanks very
much for this opportunity. Let me get my screen
justice here adjusted here a bit. Well, it���s a
pleasure to be addressing you this morning on
redistricting. Again my name is Jeff Wice. I ama
senior fellow and adjunct professor at New York
Law School, where I���m heading up a new institute
on census and redistricting. We created a
redistricting roundtable to engage the public,
veterans, experts, and new organizations with
everything redistricting, especially with
education, training and involving the public.

It���s been my privilege in the past to
have worked for five assembly speakers and four
democratic senate leaders, with the last four as

a staff or counsel, and it���s a pleasure to be

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providing information to you. I am not advocating
or presenting a particular point of view, but
want to suggest a few ideas in light of the COVID
caused delay in the census delivery and the state
constitution. I will submit a written statement,
but I���11 submit the National [unintelligible]
[01:56:42] recently published redistricting red
book, which I was a coauthor and coeditor. That���s
a [unintelligible] [01:56:51] and staff primer on
redistricting and will answer many of the legal
questions that came up earlier in this hearing.

And I���1l also provide a copy of a
recently published primer on the New York State
redistricting process that New York Law School
published last month that walks people through
the current new constitutional scheme.

Since the pandemic hit and the Census
Bureau has had to delay its census-taking process
and the expected delay in providing redistricting
data to the states, I���ve also been working with
other states similarly situated including
California, New Jersey, Virginia, which have much

tighter time frames than New York.

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I���m going to suggest that there are
three different options that the legislature can
consider. The first is to work with and urge the
commission to move up deadlines without a
constitutional amendment and to enact chapter
laws that will accommodate the schedule. A second
approach could be to develop basic constitutional
amendment to deal with some of the calendar
dates.

And then a third option would be a much
more comprehensive approach to amend the
constitution to change the 2022 dates involved,
make other reforms that, as other before me
mentioned could include creating a bipartisan
commission with a final authority and a neutral
high tiebreaker, similar to the New Jersey
scheme, second, creating a commission with final
authority and being fully independent of the
legislature, similar to California. Other changes
can include prioritizing the criteria used for
redistricting, changing the commission���s rules on
voting, adding the prison reallocation law to the

constitution, changing the standard of

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traditional review to make, verify the burdens of
proof when challenging redistricting plans. And
there are numerous other changes that could be
made if the thought is to go beyond simply fixing
the dates.

In light of the delay, the current plan
will not provide the data to the state until
sometime in June or July 2021. Under the current
framework, this gives the commission only five
months to submit its first set of plans, leaving
the commission with only about 45 days to
conclude its work or as soon as practicable
thereafter, in the words of the constitution.

The commission can���t expedite its work
after the date arrives next summer, still meet
deadlines in 2021, but make changes in the
political calendar. My colleague and friend Todd
Breitbart, a former state senate redistricting
staffer, and I have looked at the calendar and
would suggest that if the dates for the
commission and the legislature can be moved up a
bit, that a primary can still be held on June

28th with the first day to circulate petitions

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would be March 25th, the last date for filing
petitions on April 19th, leaving a 25-day
petition period, reducing the number of
Signatures required and having a primary on June
28th.

The congressional primary in 2012 was in
the spring. This commission amendment was adopted
in 2012 originally and approved 2014 with full
knowledge that there was going to be a problem.
So I think I���ve worked out a schedule that could
accommodate this.

You can find a much more detailed
analysis of all the suggestions others and I have
made about constitutional amendments in a book
chapter called ���New York���s Broken Constitution���
from the 2016 SUNY press book, the title of our
chapter was ���These Seats Cannot be Saved���. But we
looked at the entire recent history of
redistricting in New York and ways to make
further changes.

Please don���t hesitate to call me for
further assistance as you develop either chapter

amendments or revisions to the 2014 amendment and

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it���s a pleasure seeing some of the old colleagues
and friends again. Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Jeff. It���s
great to have your experienced opinion on this
matter. Eddie Cuesta from Dominicanos USA.

MR. EDDIE CUESTA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
DOMINICANOS USA: Greetings. And thank you, Chair
Gianaris, Rodrigeuz, Hoylman, Zebrowski, and
fellow committee members for providing us with
the opportunity to testify on this important
issue. My name is Eddie Cuesta, executive
director of Dominicanos USA, a nonpartisan in a
nonpartisan organization committed to the civic,
social and economic integration of the Dominican
American into all facets of the American life.

DUSA advocates and strives to ensure to
every U.S. citizen is able to freely and easily
able to exercise their civic rights, realize
their full potential and capitalize on the
opportunities the U.S. has to offer. Our
contribution to making this vision a reality
begins with our direct and grass root work the in

Dominican American community. Domincanos USA is

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here today because the New York State
redistricting process is intimately tied to our
representative democracy, which is essential to
the progress of our growing important population.
We make up a significant portion of New York���s
largest and diverse Latino population. According
to the 2017 estimate from the Census Bureau,
there are over 2 million Dominicans or people of
Dominican descent living in the United States.

In New York State and New York City, the
population estimates are 872,000 and 720,000
respectively. The 720,000 Dominicans in New York
City accounts for more than one of every nine
city residents, 12 percent, and they also account
for 29 percent of the Latino in the city. The
355,000 Dominicans in the Bronx account for
nearly one of every four, 24 percent can
[unintelligible] [02:02:52] of 43 percent of the
Latino borough residents, making the Bronx the
U.S. county with by far the largest Dominican
population.

Considering the magnitude of the

Dominican population in New York and of the

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contribution Latinos as a whole to our great
state, we are clearly dismayed to hear that not a
Single Latino was pointed to New York State
during the [unintelligible] [02:03:11]
redistricting commission, as has been said in
this panel.

It is essential that this commission is
as diverse as practically possible as stated in
its legal guidelines because representation
without such an essential democracy process will
help produce political maps which provide Latinos
a fair opportunity to elect the candidates of
their choice, both for candidates that look like
them and candidates that share their experiences.

In an attempt to remedy this oversight
well join, as was mentioned in this panel, and
the previous panel, with our partners at the
NALEAO Educational Fund and Latino Justice
PRLDEF, at the request of the Puerto Rican and
Hispanic Task Force to find and recommend
eminently qualified Latinos, candidates to fill
the remaining two seats open on the commission.

After an intense two months of scouring

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the entire state, we found five wonderful
candidates and have shared with both minority and
majority leaders in both legislative houses, as
has been mentioned previously. This process was
not easy and we believe that the current legal
structure disproportionately limits the
appointment and participation of Latinos to this
commission.

Dominicanos USA believes that the
application and selection process for members of
the redistricting commission, as noted in the
body of law that form the IRC, ones we saw in the
commission will reflect the geography, racial,
ethics, gender and national diversity of the
political jurisdiction.

The current qualification makes it
nearly impossible for Dominicans to participate
directly in this process. While we firmly state
by the importance of appointing candidates that
have no conflict of interest, we do find they
should some exceptions to this rule. Thus we urge
the first eight commissioners to select qualified

Latinos for the remaining seats.

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Lastly, considering the current state of
our public health and the COVID-19 pandemic, it
is important that the commission make the 12
hearings it is mandated to hold accessible to all
communities. We hope that this can be done
virtually in order to mitigate the spread of the
COVID-19 virus if in-person hearings are not
possible in the future.

Historically, as you may know, the
redistricting process have been intentionally
utilized to suppress the electoral power of
communities of interest, like Dominicans. We have
an opportunity to help ensure fair redistricting
process by appointing more Latinos to the
commission and by making the process as
accessible as possible to all communities in New
York State.

We have been at the ground to make sure
that the Dominican communities involved in our
nation���s democracy process and look forward to
doing the same for redistricting. Thank you again
for this opportunity to testify. We know you

share our goals of a fair redistricting process

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to allow all New Yorkers a meaningful opportunity
to participate as a result of maps that provide
underrepresented New Yorkers an opportunity to
elect the candidates their choice. We look
forward to working with you to achieve this
important goal. Thank you again.

SENATOR GIANARTIS: Thank you, Eddie.
Next, we have Tom Speaker from Reinvent Albany.

MR. TOM SPEAKER, POLICY ANALYST,
REINVENT ALBANY: Good morning. My name is Tom
Speaker and I���m a policy analyst for Reinvent
Albany. Reinvent Albany advocates for open and
accountable government in New York State. We
thank the Senate and Assembly for holdings this
hearing today on redistricting, the first hearing
on this topic for the 2022 cycle and for all the
hearings we���ll be holdings over the coming week.

So today we call on the legislature to
focus their efforts on helping the redistricting
commission function properly, rather than making
major structural changes to the redistricting
process. While we recognize that the

redistricting process needs improvement, the

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earliest constitutional changes would take effect
after voter approval in November 2021, which we
believe to be too far along in the process of
drawing district lines.

The first passage of a constitutional
amendment would need to be done by the
legislature in the next couple weeks. While the
public discussion around redistricting has only
started in earnest with this hearing today major
changes to redistricting policy should only be
made after the public has had sufficient time to
weigh in. The constitutional amendment passed in
2014 is not perfect, but it was approved by the
voters and is the only feasible framework for
drawing lines for 2022, given the current time
limitations.

That said, we believe that statutory
changes could and should be made to the
redistricting commission���s timeframes to address
the consolidated June primary date and delays in
census collection data related to COVID-19. These
ministerial changes can be made via statute and

would provide the commission guidance on how to

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proceed during the cycle while ensuring adequate
time for public hearings and review.

We also support the League of Women
Voters of New York State���s request to ensure that
the commission is fully equipped with both
funding and staff and that the funding that was
made available is released as soon as possible.
There should also be a greater clarity around the
application of the open meetings law and the
freedom of information law to the commission.

Lastly, the commission must work to
appoint its final two non-affiliated
commissioners so that planning can finally begin.
It is important for public trust as the
commission begin its work soon and lay out an
open roadmap for how this redistricting cycle
will unfold.

So while discussion of changes is
warranted, we believe that these issues should be
considered when there is more time for thoughtful
public discussion and review. Changing
redistricting midstream would be disruptive and

potentially damage public confidence in the

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process. Consideration of larger structural
changes should only be made with more time for
public input. That���s all we have, so thank you
for the opportunity to speak today.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Tom. And
last but certainly not least, Rachel Bloom from
Citizens Union.

MS. RACHEL BLOOM, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC
POLICY, CITIZENS UNION: Hello. Thank you for
having me. I know that you���ve heard a lot of
people already today, and I���m going to try and
not be as repetitive. So I am representing
Citizens Union, and we are very excited to be
here talking about, for the first time in this
cycle, about redistricting with you, but I���m sure
there are many more to come. Particularly right
now with so much that���s going on, we are thankful
for you for having this hearing and shining a
light on it.

So eight years ago, when lawmakers
placed on the ballot the biggest reform to
redistricting in decades, received the decisive

support of New Yorkers, and it created a more

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fair and open redistricting process. Having said
all of that, the amendment also called for
extensive public hearings and the release of maps
and other data which would allow the members of
the public to draw their own maps, thus fostering
public participation. As we head into this
process for the first time, it���s exciting but
there are also challenges we face, and I���m going
to try and run through these.

First, as we obviously all know, it���s a
new and yet untested process. We have to
establish the commission, including staffing. We
are excited that the legislature allocated
$750,000 for the budget, and urge them to get
going with the creation and staffing and
appointing an executive director.

We call on the commissioners to reach an
agreement on their picks as soon as possible, and
as they consider filling the two remaining
vacancies, we note that according to the
constitution, the commission should reflect the
diversity of the residents of the state. And with

that, we amplify those who spoke before us,

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noting that there���s only one woman on the
commission and no Latinx commissioners, which
does not as at the moment seem reflective of New
York State.

Next, I���m actually going to skip ahead
to something and go back to this if I have time.
Our third, what was originally our most important
point is that we oppose any process which seeks
to amend the state constitution to address the
2022 redistricting cycle. The 2014 revision was a
result of a long process of deliberation, public
input and media coverage.

Changing the constitution without public
notice during a last minute session would be
counter to the objective of an open and fair
redistricting process, especially since timeline
problems we believe can be solved through
legislative action and do not need to happen
merely through constitutional amendment. The
current redistricting process is not perfect.
There are things that we had hoped the 2014
amendment would have included, more improvements

to the process. But we very much supported the

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final version as an important opportunity to fix
a rigged system.

We believe the public, which strongly
supported the 2014 amendment, should be given the
chance to see those amendments implemented for
the first time. A thoughtful debate on the merits
and drawbacks of the process should follow ahead
of next redistricting process.

Changes should not be made during a
redistricting process in the current highly
rushed timeline. We are especially concerned by
any attempts to eliminate the bipartisan nature
of the current redistricting process, either by
changing the special voting rules on the
commission or the needed majority in legislature
in case of one-party control. That would
contradict the intent of 2014 amendment.

We have advocated for fair redistricting
for many decades, during which time we have
watched as one party or the other sought to
reduce by gerrymander the voting rights of
supporters of the opposing party. The goal of

fair redistricting for every person���s vote to

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have equal value, regardless of party
affiliation. We are concerned that any process
which seeks to amend the constitution at this
moment would create confusion, limit public input
and will not influence the timeline.

The earliest that an amendment can take
affect is January 1, 2022, well past the when
commission is set to require its preliminary plan
for public comment and on the same day when it is
supposed to present its first plan to the
legislature. The commission must be able to
operate with full knowledge of what criteria it
needs to follow.

If amendments are placed on ballot, the
commission will not know until November which
constitutional provisions would be in effect. If
there is a change in January, the commission
would have to operate would have to operate with
different criteria and possibly produce new maps.

The tight timing would greatly limit, if
not exclude public input on revised plans. And if
there are pending amendments, we doubt members of

the public would be able to provide meaningful

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input to the process. This may also compound the
risk of lawsuits, both during and after the
process. We fear this will delay the process
rather than expedite it.

And with that I will be submitting my
written testimony which has more in it, which
cannot be contained in these five minutes. And I
just end it by urging the legislature to keep the
redistricting process set forth in the 2014
amendment intact for the upcoming redistricting
cycle. Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. And before
I go to questions, let me just point out the
irony for those who say that the current process
was subject to great public input and no vote.
Anything that would happen now would also be
subject to the exact same process. It would be at
least a year plus before the public would get to
opine on it and it would be the same vote that
would be known in November of ���21, even if it
would take effect in January, so the commission
would have full knowledge for two months about

what the changes would be. With that Senator

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Gustavo Rivera is first on this.

SENATOR RIVERA: Thank you, sir. All
right, thank you all for being here. Jeff, it is
good to see you and I���ve worked with this
gentleman before, and obviously good to see the
rest of the panelists, Eddie, good to you as
well. But Jeff, I wanted for you to -- you took
some time during your testimony to talk about the
timeline that, because obviously we are under
constraints as far as what the timeline would be,
and I want to go a little bit deeper into that.
Because obviously our choices are limited because
of when the primary is set and what the amendment
says. I voted against it. That���s neither here nor
there. It is reality. So tell us a little bit
more about the timeline that you think could
potentially work, as far as how it would
breakdown.

MR. WICE: That���s a great question.
Without going to the constitutional amendment
issue, I think the simplest way of approaching
things is to first persuade the commission, once

it���s up and running, to work as expeditiously as

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possible, to have everything it can possibly do
ready to go at the time the state receives the
census data, where if Congress approves, will be
mow later than July 30th of 2021 and possibly or
probably earlier in July, if not late June. The
Census Bureau is still working out that schedule.

Having said that, if the data comes, you
know, as the late case scenario, on July 30th,
the commission needs to upload and analyze the
data, it needs to work out the kinks. It takes a
few weeks to do that. To look at the mal-
apportionment of current districts and the new
populations, determine where districts are over
or under the ideal population size. Then it���s,
the commission is required to hold a series of 12
hearings throughout the state. I looked back at
recent schedules --

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: Sorry to
interrupt. So that 12 hearings, that is a
requirement that exists in law or in the --

MR. WICE: In the constitution. The
actual cities and counties are listed in the

constitution and it���s similar to the hearings

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that were held ten years ago and 20 years ago,
when each series of hearings went for about two
and a half weeks. Although, to be more expedited
in 2021, I calendared out if hearings can start
in September, late September, that you can hold
12 hearings and you can do Manhattan, Bronx,
Staten Island five days in a row, you can do
every other day or Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo,
Albany in four days straight. That���s how it���s
been done in the past.

So you can work with a month and get,
develop public input, develop plans. And drawing
plans is not that difficult, given the software
that���s out there. It���s just a matter of applying
the public input and weighing, I think, the
tremendous amount of greater public involvement
that we���ll see in 2021. But to develop the first
iteration draft plan at some point by November,
December of next year, and then send the plan to
the legislature if the commission can agree ona
plan, and even have a second plan. Let���s say if
the first plan can be done in November and if the

legislature can meet, either adopt and it send it

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to the governor or if it���s rejected by either the
legislature or the governor, then go back in
December and try it again. But at some point to
have a plan in place, signed by the governor,
that would allow -- this would be for really, I
guess February final enactment, so that then
boards of elections can redraw the election
districts to comport with the new assembly
districts, and then begin a primary process for
June 28th primary date beginning on March 25th.

You need at least about a month for the
boards of elections to administer the process. I
went back and looked at the 1982 process, when
both petitions and dates were collapsed. I look
back at the 2020 schedule. So it���s fast-tracked,
but as many of the speakers talked about, the
more that���s done at the frontend to gain input,
to reach out to people, to get the sense of what
various communities are looking at, this could be
done rather quickly.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: I want to make
sure, we only have 20 seconds so I wanted to just

say, I wanted to make sure that we get all of

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that on the record, since it is clear that we���re
going to have a very compressed timeline and we
want to make sure that we move it expeditiously,
so that we can do all these things, that it is
possible to do it. It is tight, but it is
possible to do. So in your expert opinion that is
the case?

MR. WICE: And I don���t think the
constitution could be amended to impact the 2021
dates since any amendment couldn���t go into effect
until January 1, 2022.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA: Okay. Thank
you, Jeff.

MR. WICH: You���re welcome.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay. Member
Zebrowski, do you have any members of the
assembly?

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI: Not at this
point.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Okay. We have senator
Tom O���Mara.

SENATOR O���MARA: Thank you, Chairman.

That was Mr. Wice that was just answering

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questions at the end there, correct?

MR. WICH: That���s correct.

SENATOR O���MARA: Can you, for the
public���s benefit, you mentioned the redistricting
software and capabilities that are out there
today and that it can be done quickly. Can you
just generally explain to myself and to the
public just exactly how this software works and
how quickly these lines can actually be drawn
now.

MR. WICH: Well, sure. There are three
major commercial vendors that have developed
redistricting software, and when I say software,
you get the census data from the Census Bureau.
It���s called the PL94171 file. It basically
provides all of the racial and age data for every
election district in the state. You upload that
data into the software. And the software enables
to you look at the current districts to see all
of the racial and ethnic numbers that comport
with each district, each election district,
senate district or assembly district, and then

allows you, using geographic information

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assistance, GIS science, to move populations
around so that you���re changing district
populations, and as you do that, you get to see
the racial, ethnic and age differences as you
change them, so that you draw districts that
comport with one person, one vote, that all
districts be equal in size roughly, the Voting
Rights Act, so that you know what the racial
composition of districts look like. You also get
a sense to see the other kinds of factors that
you can add to the software.

An experienced line drawer, of which
there are very few, can draw a map in a matter of
days. It���s just a matter of how much advanced
work has gone into the process, how much politics
and policy making goes into what the line drawer
is being told to weigh. But it���s not a process
that takes a month to draw a map, a relatively
short period of time.

But again, it depends on the
circumstances of what is going on then, what
needs to be done, whether there are policy or

political differences that need to be worked out.

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But I am talking about doing that on a fast
track.

SENATOR O���MARA: Right. Now, you didn���t
mention the criteria or the data point of party
affiliation. Does that not go into that system?

MR. WICE: You look at party affiliation
when you do racial voting analysis to determine
whether you need to comport with the Voting
Rights Act to maintain or draw districts that are
required based on racially polarized voting
patterns. So you need to look ac back at ten
years of primaries and general elections, so the
partisan data there does play in. It���s not
prohibited to use partisan data. It���s not
prohibited to use any kind of data. That���s up to
the policy making body as to what data it wants
to consider.

However, all data that goes into the
redistricting machinery should be made public and
divulged so that the public knows what factors
went into the line drawing. If you���re hiding some
kind of a data, then you���re making some kind of a

mistake.

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SENATOR O���MARA: Thank you. At the first
panel I asked a question about the money not
being released that���s been appropriated for this.
Would you agree that the sooner that money gets
released to set up the commission and that staff
and executive directors get hired, that these
final two commissioners get chosen, and that they
begin their work is imperative?

MR. WICE: It���s imperative from an
objective point of view that things get moving
along, because we say that the longer you take to
wait, the harder it is to catch up. But again I
just want to reiterate that I���m not making
recommendations to the legislature. I���m just
giving you examples based on my experience that
early planning leads to a better result.

SENATOR O���MARA: Okay. Now, that
$750,000 for this commission was appropriated in
this year���s budget that was passed in the first
week of April. That money���s been appropriated,
and it���s up to the majorities of each house of
the legislature to get that money released. That

has not been done. Do you think the later we go

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on this, we might potentially need more resources
for the need to hire more staff to do more work
in less time?

MR. WICH: That���s hard to say because
the money that was appropriated goes through
April 1st of next year. There needs to be an
entirely new appropriation for the fiscal year
beginning 2021-22. The unknown factor that none
of us anticipated at all prior to mid-March, was
the possible need to work remotely. We have no
idea what the future holds and whether we���1l be
back at our offices next year. That would add up
costs in terms of more hearings like this. Then
again, it can save costs by not having to travel
to travel 12 cities, but that���s a factor to be
thinking about. But it might also cost that each
staff person, each legislator have his or her own
commuter and software and each software license
can cost about $1,000 each. So there are factors
that hadn���t been planned for. We don���t know yet.

SENATOR O���MARA: Well, right now the
commission isn���t staffed, doesn���t have resources,

so they can���t even make a choice of which

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software to purchase to use. And I would just
note that I think it���s imperative that this money
get released and the commission get on with its
work. But I thank you for testifying here today,
Mr. Wice and the rest of the panelists here.
Thank you very much, Chairman.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Senator
O���Mara. Let me point out to you that I believe
the trigger for the hirings and the rest of the
work the commission needs to do is the
establishment of the commission. And until the
final two members are selected, I���m not sure that
that can proceed regardless, but do I share your
view that the commission needs to start moving
expeditiously, given the tight time frame we all
have.

I believe that wraps up the hearing. Let
me thank all our panelists, all my colleagues, my
co-chairs, Assembly Member Zebrowski, Assembly
Member Rodriguez, Senator Hoylman. This is
certainly something we���re going to be talking a
lot more about as the weeks and months unfold and

we���ll have the opportunity for even more input.

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With that, I would like to ask my Senate Co-Chair
Senator Hoylman to give some closing remarks and
then we���ll pass it over to Assembly Member
Zebrowski.

SENATOR HOYLMAN: Thank you, Senator
Gianaris. This is an unprecedented time for us,
but it���s also unprecedented in that the Senate
has never actually had hearings leading up to a
redistricting in this manner previous. So I���m
very proud of our participation today, Senator
Gianaris and looking forward to putting deed
behind the words of so many of our panelists
today who gave us an expert insight into one of
the most fundamental issues involving our
democracy, whether every person���s vote counts
equally. Thank you very much, Senator Gianaris.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKLI: Thank you,
Senator Gianaris and Senator Hoylman. I���d like to
give my co-chair for this hearing, Assembly
Member Robert Rodriguez, who chairs the task
force on demographic research and
reapportionment, an opportunity for a statement.

ASSEMBLY MEMBER RODRIGUEZ: Thank you,

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Assembly Member Zebrowski and thank you to my
senate colleagues for the opportunity to have
this very important discussion about
redistricting and the process. And certainly the
comments that were made about diversity are
important I think both to the Senate majority as
well as the Assembly majority and certainly
something that we are committed to enacting
throughout this process. And endeavor to meet and
respond to the comments that were made through
actions and hopefully to the final appointments.

But more importantly, we would be remiss
if we didn���t look at the inputs to the process
that we are evaluating now. The census and our
ability to respond and get good data will inform
our ability to make good decisions with respect
to redistricting that actually reflect one
person, one vote.

And as we talk about the efforts around
census, we have to recognize that we are still
below the national average in terms of response,
and still have appropriations outstanding to help

us to achieve those numbers. So I think it���s

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important that we recognize there���s $30 million
that needs to get utilized to ensure that the
census numbers are meaningful. And I think it���s
important that that information come into play so
that we are able to have a successful outcome
that we all hope for in this process. Thank you.

SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Assembly
Member Rodriguez, and that concludes this joint
public hearing. I want to thank everybody that
participated, all of my colleagues, everyone that
testified and all those out there that are
listening and engaging in this process. I also
want to thank both the Senate and Assembly staff
who worked very hard on put this on and I hope
everyone has a wonderful day. Thank you.

(The public hearing concluded at 12:30

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Page 146

CERTIFICATE OF ACCURACY

I, Claudia Marques, certify that the foregoing
transcript of the Online Public Hearing on
Evaluating Constitutional Provisions Impacting
Redistricting on July 15, 2020 was prepared using
the required transcription equipment and is a true

and accurate record of the proceedings.

Certified By

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Date: July 28, 2020

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New York, NYX 10018

Geneva Worldwide, Inc.
256 West 38" Street, 10" Floor, New York, NY 10018