Public Hearing - July 15, 2020

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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

                                                                      Page
PANEL 1:

Blair Horner                                                           12
     Executive Director
     New York Public Interest Research Group

L Joy Williams                                                         17
     Branch President
     Brooklyn NAACP

Susan Lerner                                                           21
     Executive Director
     Common Cause New York

Juan Rosa                                                              25
     Northeast Director
     National Association of Latino Elected
     and Appointed Officials

Lurie Daniel-Favors                                                    31
     Interim Executive Director
     Center for Law and Social Justice



PANEL 2:

Jennifer Wilson                                                        79
     Deputy Director
     League of Women Voters

Amy Torres                                                             85
     Director of Policy
     Chinese-American Planning Council

Michael Li                                                            92
     Senior Counsel
     Brennan Center for Justice

Jose Perez                                                             97
     Deputy General Counsel
     Latino Justice PRLDEF




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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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2                (The public hearing commenced at 10:00

3    a.m.)

4                SENATOR MICHAEL GIANARIS, CO-CHAIR,

5    LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE ON DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

6    AND REAPPORTIONMENT:              Good morning, everybody and

7    welcome to this hearing. I want to welcome

8    everyone who took some time out of their day to

9    join us on this important subject matter. A

10   little bit arcane, but important nonetheless as

11   it relates to our democracy and the districts

12   that we run under. We are embarking on a new

13   process in New York for redistricting, and one

14   that we're all learning as we go because it's

15   never happened before and it's got a lot of

16   twists and turns to it, and so this is the first

17   step forward in that process to talk to some of

18   the experts, talk to some of the people who were

19   involved both in establishing this and are just

20   experts generally on the topic, so that we can

21   make some evaluations as a legislature to what we

22   need to do to make this work as efficiently,

23   productively and fairly as possible.

24               There's been a lot of changes since we



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2    first established this process. Most notably, the

3    one that's necessitating some reevaluation in

4    changes as the calendar when this reapportioning

5    process was initially set up, our state primaries

6    were in September, which fit easily within the

7    calendar laid out in the constitution for the

8    commission revealing its plans and the

9    legislature reacting to them.

10             Since that time as everyone knows, our

11   primaries have now been moved to June. The

12   petitioning process begins late February or early

13   March, and that has made the timing of the

14   existing constitutional provisions impractical.

15   So we thought as long as we're reevaluating,

16   let's talk to folks about what other changes are

17   important and necessary that we can make, as well

18   as talking generally about the commission process

19   and how we get that moving forward in the

20   timeframe that we have to work with.

21             I want to recognize my colleagues who

22   are here on the Senate side. Co-chairing this

23   hearing with me is the chair of our judiciary

24   committee, Senator Brad Hoylman, welcome Senator



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2    Hoylman. We are also joined by Senator Savino,

3    Senator Breslin, Senator Gounardes and Senator

4    Kaplan. Some of our members have through

5    redistricting processes before, for some it's

6    their first time, so we have a good mix of folks

7    on both sides.

8              We also have with us our friends and

9    colleagues from the Assembly, and I'm going to

10   kick it over now to the chair of the Assembly

11   Government Operations Committee, it's a committee

12   that I was actually the staff counsel for many

13   years ago. So it's good be working with them from

14   this side as well.

15             And, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski has done

16   tremendous work in the Assembly, and I want to

17   welcome and thank him for joining us as well as

18   my co-chair on [unintelligible] [00:02:52]

19   Assemblyman Rodriguez and I'll hand it over to

20   Assemblyman Zebrowski.

21             ASSEMBLY MEMBER KENNETH ZEBROWSKI,

22   CHAIR, ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON

23   GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS:               Thank you, Senator

24   Gianaris. It's a pleasure to be here with you



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2    today, all my colleagues and all of those that

3    are both listening and ready to testify. Also

4    welcome to senator co-chair, Senator Hoylman and

5    to my assembly co-chairs, Assembly Member

6    Rodriguez, great to be with everybody today in

7    this important topic.

8              I just have a few comments to make, and

9    then, we'll get this rolling. Every ten years,

10   the nation undertakes the process of counting

11   citizens, it's critical that New York State

12   receive an accurate count of its citizens and

13   apportion representatives in a manner that

14   results in equal and just representation for the

15   state. Next year, we will begin a new system of

16   apportioning legislative representation to people

17   in the state.

18             In 2014, New York voters approved

19   amendments to the New York State constitution

20   which changed the process for drawing legislative

21   districts. An independent commission of ten

22   individuals will meet to attempt to decide how to

23   best construct the representation of the millions

24   of diverse individuals that make up our state.



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2               We're here in an uncertain time. The

3    results of the national census have been delayed

4    due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In times like

5    these, we need to be flex about and mindful of

6    our future.

7               Thank you to all of the witnesses that

8    agreed to testify today. We hope that your

9    feedback and recommendations on our upcoming

10   redistricting process will offer us some new

11   insight that may then to guide us through this

12   process.

13              First, on the assembly side, let me say,

14   I mentioned Co-Chair Robert Rodriguez. We also

15   have Assembly Member David Buchwald, Assembly

16   Member Harvey Epstein, Assembly Member Sandy

17   Galef with us this morning, and as additional

18   people join, I'll announce them at that point.

19   Thank you, senator.

20              SENATOR GIANARIS:               Okay, thank you,

21   assemblyman. We've also had some additional

22   joiners, you'll hear us announcing the

23   legislators as they arrive. But we have been

24   joined by Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Toby



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2    Stavisky and make this a bipartisan effort we

3    have Senator O'Mara and Senator Lanza joining us

4    from the senate side as well. I'm sure others

5    will join in as we go.

6              Okay, so we're going to move on to our

7    first panel, who I understand are all ready and

8    waiting. Each witness will get five minutes to

9    testify, followed by questions from the

10   legislators. And in our first panel, I will read

11   the names of and affiliations and please testify

12   in this order. We're going to start with Blair

13   Horner from NYPIRG, L. Joy Williams from the

14   Brooklyn NAACP, Susan Lerner from Common Cause

15   New York, Juan Rosa from the NALEO Educational

16   Fund, and Lurie Daniel-Favors from the Medgar

17   Evers Center for Law and Social Justice, so

18   Blair, take it away.

19             SENATOR THOMAS F. O'MARA:                     Chairman, is

20   there some reason that my video is blocked?

21             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Not that I'm aware

22   of. We'll take care of that, senator. Blair,

23   whenever you're ready.

24             MR. BLAIR HORNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,



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2    NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP:                         Okay.

3    Can you hear me okay?

4              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Yes.

5              MR. HORNER:           All right. Senators,

6    assembly members, thank you for the opportunity

7    to testify on this important topic. This is my

8    first Zoom hearing, so if I seem a little

9    discombobulated, please bear with me or tell me

10   that I'm doing something wrong.

11             We've submitted our written comments and

12   I will summarize our views here, but first, on

13   behalf of NYPIRG, we commend the houses for this

14   hearing, and for the scheduled hearings to come

15   on a wide range of issues. It's important that

16   the legislature reestablish itself as the primary

17   policy making body in New York's governmental

18   system. These hearings and the action on a wide

19   range of issues are important and we applaud

20   those activities.

21             As you may know, NYPIRG opposed the

22   constitutional amendment in 2014 and our comments

23   today may touch on some of those concerns that we

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



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2    testimony is on what can be done now to deal with

3    the reality of New York's untested redistricting

4    system in 2022.

5              There are a number of issues that we're

6    concern about including the timetable, which is

7    already been discussed, which is now undermined

8    by the change in primary date, as well as the

9    impact the pandemic has had on the ability of the

10   census to deliver data to the states. Our

11   concerns are magnified by the fact this will be

12   the legislature's first time working with the

13   detailed, complicated redistricting scheme.

14             Redistricting is highly charged without

15   adding a pandemic and a new law to the mix. If

16   the census makes its data available for

17   redistricting at the end of July, 2021, that will

18   give the commission virtually no time to draft

19   maps and make them publicly available for comment

20   in September, as the constitution provides.

21             The public hearings are important and

22   will inform the commission on weaknesses and

23   plans. They have to then incorporate relevant

24   recommendations and make their plan available to



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2    the legislature by January. The commission will

3    have to operate at warp speed to make that all

4    happen within five months plus.

5              So the pandemic has created real

6    logistical problems for compliance with the

7    constitution's redistricting requirements. Added

8    to that is the candidates will be gearing up for

9    primaries, were gearing up for primaries in early

10   2022, or the legislature may still be haggling

11   over maps developed by the commission, or making

12   their own.

13             Proponents of the amendment anticipated

14   September primaries, so the new June primary date

15   timetable may leave candidates unclear as to

16   which districts they're running in. Neither of

17   these problem can be remedied with constitutional

18   changes in time, we don't believe. Statutory

19   budget moves can bolster the ability of the

20   commission to do its work, assuming that all goes

21   well with it.

22             The commission is based on the model of

23   the State Board of Elections, an agency notorious

24   for gridlock when deciding important issues. The



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2    current commission hasn't yet jointly have chosen

3    its two additional members and has done nothing

4    that we can see to prepare for the daunting work

5    ahead.

6                 One of the key reasons that we opposed

7    the 2014 amendment was our view that the

8    commission would never be truly independent. The

9    commissioners may act as agents of their

10   appointing authorities instead of the public

11   interest. Given the lateness of the action, the

12   limited ability to publicly hash out needed

13   changes, there seems to be not a lot of time that

14   can be done to amend the constitution that would

15   be consequential in 2022.

16                However, there is one area that could be

17   fixed in time. That would be to remove the

18   unconstitutional provisions adopted in 1894,

19   provisions that violate the one person one vote

20   requirements under federal law. But to change the

21   deadline for a second submission of the

22   commission's plan by the end of February,

23   although it does say no later than, and that

24   could probably be fixed statutorily.



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2              But there are other areas that should be

3    fixed. But they may have to be for the 2030

4    redistricting cycle. We discussed those in our

5    written testimony, but two important ones are

6    eliminating the partisan redistricting commission

7    and using language akin to what the Congress uses

8    for map makers to make districts be comparable in

9    size, population wise.

10             Lastly, on a related issue, we think

11   that you should consider capping the number of

12   senators at whatever the number is that's

13   appropriate, because, as you all know, the senate

14   that grown from 50 members in the 1930s to 63

15   now. So thank you for this opportunity to

16   testify. Again we applaud your interest in this

17   issue, and I'm done.

18             SENATOR GIANARIS:                I appreciate it. Let

19   me just answer Senator O'Mara's question of

20   earlier. I misunderstood his question. The

21   members' videos turn on so they can be seen when

22   they are speaking or recognized and then just the

23   co-chairs and the panelists are on video. We've

24   also have been joined by Senator Kaminsky,



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2    Senator Sepulveda and Senator Boyle. And next we

3    have L. Joy Williams from NAACP. Welcome.

4                 MS. L. JOY WILLIAMS, BRANCH PRESIDENT,

5    BROOKLYN NAACP:            Good morning and thank you very

6    much for the opportunity to talk with you this

7    morning. The New York State Conference of NAACP

8    is submitting full written testimony, but I just

9    wanted to highlight a number of issues that the

10   NAACP are focusing now and will be focusing on

11   throughout this process.

12                For those of you who don't know, I am

13   president of Brooklyn NAACP, but I'm also the

14   legislative coordinator for the New York State

15   NAACP Conference of Branches, which consists of

16   thousands of members. We have over 51 branches in

17   the State of New York, under the leadership of

18   our New York State Conference president, Hazel

19   Dukes.

20                I'm sure you will hear from me a number

21   of times throughout this process, not only on

22   this issue but on a number of different issues.

23   But there are some key pieces that I would like

24   to highlight as you begin this process.



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2              So, back in September of 2011, the late

3    Reverend Anita Burson, who was then second vice

4    president of Brooklyn NAACP, testified before the

5    committee and she began her testimony

6    highlighting the lack of diversity and minimal

7    representation of people of color, as well as

8    diversity in gender, both on the committee and on

9    the staff.

10             And so as you begin the process and as

11   the speaker before me mentioned, that we are in

12   the beginning phases of how this process will

13   play out, I urge you that as you are staffing up,

14   if you will, that, you focus on ensuring that the

15   entire operation of our redistricting process is

16   reflective of the great diversity of this state.

17             This should be a guiding principle, not

18   only for the individual staff, legislative aides

19   and others and I'm talking about even a person

20   making photocopies, but, also any contractors and

21   vendors that will be used for this process.

22             In addition, I ask and urge the elected

23   leaders to go a step further, and expect both the

24   elected leaders and commission to produce a



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2    report demonstrating not only your commitment but

3    your actions to this equity principle to ensure

4    that our redistricting process is reflective of

5    the people of state of New York.

6              Now, our redistricting process, as

7    previously mentioned will have a number of

8    firsts, it is the first time we will have an

9    independent redistricting commission. And as you

10   know, and as the previous speaker noted, the New

11   York State NAACP also opposed the commission at

12   that time.

13             But this is also the first redistricting

14   process that will be doing since the Supreme

15   Court struck down the preclearance directive

16   under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

17   This means that states like ours, which had

18   districts under preclearance, including Brooklyn,

19   will not have that preclearance principle to the

20   Justice Department or Attorney General.

21             Now, you may say given the current U.S.

22   Attorney General and Justice Department that we

23   may count that as a blessing. However, just

24   because the federal version of preclearance is on



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2    hold until Congress takes action, it doesn't mean

3    that the state of New York should not have some

4    process and we are advocating having a

5    preclearance process with our state attorney

6    general, in the passage of a New York State

7    voting rights act that will ensure not only the

8    voting rights and representation of people of

9    color in state of New York.

10             The other issue that was highlight

11   highlighted in the previous redistricting

12   process, was that of counting those who are

13   incarcerated. As you know, NAACP attempted to

14   join on two lawsuits on this particular issue.

15   And it was something that was done in the

16   previous census operation and has not yet been

17   for this 2020 cycle. So I'm urging the

18   legislature to address this issue as well.

19             So, we are obviously behind the eight

20   ball as I wrap up. The pandemic that is

21   particularly ravaging communities of color, in

22   addition to a number of wholesome different

23   issues in terms of the rising costs of living in

24   New York, housing gentrification and all of those



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2    issues. And at the center of this will be making

3    sure that this process is inclusive and is not

4    just a set number of folks that is separate and

5    apart from the diversity of the state of New

6    York.

7                So I urge not only in the hearings that

8    will happen that are required to happen all over

9    the state, but that the elected leaders, the

10   committees and commission, also create a process

11   for active participation of the public, because

12   we know our communities, we know our districts in

13   creating the maps in the process that will go

14   forward to create a better New York. Thank you.

15               SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you so much, L.

16   Joy. Next, we have Susan Lerner from common cause

17   New York.

18               MS. SUSAN LERNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,

19   COMMON CAUSE NEW YORK:                Thank you very much. And

20   I want to join my colleagues, Blair Horner, in

21   thanking the legislature for this hearing and to

22   join in with the NAACP's call that the commission

23   and all of its proceedings should be sensitive to

24   diversity issues.



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2              As you may be aware, Common Cause New

3    York drew the only set of statewide reform maps

4    in the last redistricting process. And as a

5    national organization, redistricting is one of

6    our key issues where we advocate across the

7    country for fair redistricting processes and we

8    are the organization which wrote and passed the

9    California system of an independent citizen led

10   redistricting commission process.

11             I'd like to point out that we did

12   receive a court ruling in 2014, which clarified

13   that the commission set up by our constitution

14   should not properly be called independent because

15   it really is politically appointed.

16             But, I do differ with Blair on the issue

17   of what can be done currently to affect

18   redistricting. I do believe that changes can be

19   made timely to our constitution which will

20   provide guidance to the commission, and improve

21   our process. And there are four areas that we

22   identify in our written testimony.

23             The first is of course the deadlines

24   which simply have to be changed. We recommend



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2    that the first set of maps from the commission go

3    to the legislature on December 1, and that

4    revised maps also have to be completed in

5    December. We recognize this is a very collapsed

6    timeframe with the late provision of information

7    from the census. But I believe that the

8    commission's requirements in the constitution to

9    hold hearings around the state, and get input

10   from citizens should remain in place and that the

11   commission should be given the resources to

12   satisfy that requirement.

13             We agree with NYPIRG, the

14   uncontrovertibly unconstitutional language that

15   was placed in our constitution in 1894 and help

16   unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in

17   1964 should simply be removed. It serves no

18   purpose, it's confusing and a good draftsmanship

19   requires that it should be removed.

20             We do advocate for some improvements to

21   the redistricting process which we believe would

22   improve and add some good redistricting

23   practices. We agree with the NAACP, the ban on

24   prison-based gerrymandering can and should be



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2    memorialized in our constitution. It is an

3    important public policy, and there should not be

4    any confusion regarding its application in any

5    redistricting process for our state.

6              We also believe that there should be a

7    standard set for population equivalence. Based on

8    our experience drawing maps, we believe that

9    standard should be plus or minus two percent to

10   give map drawers sufficient flexibility to

11   respect communities of interest and other

12   necessary standards for good redistricting.

13             And we also believe that there should be

14   some language changes to encourage new and fair

15   maps. We believe that the requirement that the

16   map drawers must start from the core of existing

17   districts really impedes an open and fair

18   redistricting process and should be stricken.

19             Finally, we believe that the language in

20   the constitution should be changed to set a fair

21   and politically neutral voting process for the

22   commission and for the legislature. As a matter

23   of policy, we do not support shifting rules of

24   procedure based upon the results, the political



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2    results of elections. We think particularly, in

3    this divisive time in our country, that that

4    precedent is a dangerous one and should be

5    changed so that, the rules apply equally

6    irrespective of election results.

7              To the extent that there is a concern in

8    a not independent commission, that one party or

9    another would take advantage, we believe

10   requiring that the approval of the final maps

11   must include the vote of at least one of the non-

12   affiliated members of the commission would

13   alleviate those concerns.

14             And I look forward to further

15   discussions of changes and improvements to our

16   redistricting process. Thank you.

17             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you Susan. And

18   I want to thank all of the witnesses to being

19   incredibly timely to the five-minute requirement.

20   And next we're going to hear from Juan Rosa from

21   the NALEO Education Fund.

22             MR. JUAN ROSA, NORTHEAST DIRECTOR,

23   NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ELECTED AND

24   APPOINTED OFFICIALS:            Good morning and thank you



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2    so much to Chairs Gianaris, Rodriguez, Hoylman,

3    Zebrowski and the committee members from the

4    Senate and the Assembly for providing us the

5    opportunity to testify on this important issue. I

6    am Juan Rosa, the NALEO Education Fund. We are

7    the nation's leading nonpartisan organization

8    which facilitates full Latino participation in

9    America's political process.

10             We have had a physical office here in

11   New York City for the last 25 years, in which we

12   have implemented multifaceted voter assistance

13   and vocational programming.

14             Because redistricting shapes the

15   contours of our [unintelligible] [00:23:25] of

16   democracy, we have been involved in several

17   national and state dialogues for the last two

18   decades about how to ensure that all

19   redistricting provide Latinos with a meaningful

20   opportunity to participates in the process. We

21   also believe that all redistricting must produce

22   maps which provide Latinos with a fair

23   opportunity to elect the candidates of their

24   choice.



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2              Back into 2005, our board of directors

3    articulated principles to guide our assessment of

4    redistricting whether lines are drawn by

5    legislature, a commission or some other entity.

6    In my testimony, I will address the extent to

7    whether New York's current constitutional

8    provisions comply with our principals and the

9    impact of the delay in the delivery of census

10   data on the process and the Latino community.

11             First, our principles require that all

12   redistricting comply with the U.S. Constitution

13   and the federal Voting Rights Act. Generally, the

14   criteria for redistricting set forth in New

15   York's Constitution appear consistent with this

16   goal. We are concerned that the provision

17   prohibiting the drawing of districts that

18   discourage competition could under certain

19   circumstances make it more difficult to draw

20   districts that comply with the DRA.

21             And we will be watching carefully as the

22   state's redistricting process moves forward to

23   see if the provision of competition interferes

24   with the DRA compliant districts.



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2              One of our key principles is the

3    application and selection process for members of

4    a commission must result in a commission that

5    reflects the geographic, racial, ethnic, gender

6    and age diversity of the political jurisdiction.

7    We will note that there is language in the

8    Constitution that requires to the extent

9    practical that New York's redistricting

10   commission achieve this goal. Yet, we're

11   extremely dismayed that New York's redistricting

12   commission -- I'm sorry, I lost my place here.

13   That no one Latino was selected for any of the

14   first eight seats in New York's commission.

15             Given that Latinos compromise nearly 20

16   percent of the state's population, the commission

17   cannot reflect the state's diversity with an

18   absence of Latinos and without a significant

19   increase in Latino representation. Thus we urge

20   the first eight commissioners to select qualified

21   Latinos for the remaining seats.

22             We will also note that the constitution

23   requires legislative leadership selecting the

24   commissioners to the extent practicable, consult



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2    with voting rights advocates and voters from

3    underrepresented communities. To the best of our

4    knowledge, this consultation did not occur with

5    respect to the Latino community. In the future,

6    it is critical that Latinos have a voice early on

7    in the selection process.

8              Our principles finally call for

9    reasonable requirements for the qualifications

10   and conduct of commissioners to ensure they avoid

11   conflict of interest and the appearance of

12   impropriety. While we very much understand the

13   importance of avoiding conflict of interest for

14   any commission, we suggest that the restrictions

15   in New York's Constitution may prevent civically

16   engaged Latinos from being able to serve on the

17   commission for past activities which do not

18   create a meaningful risk of conflict of interest.

19             For example, having served as a

20   professor administrator at either CUNY or SUNY at

21   some point in the last three years would bar

22   anyone from being appointed to one of the last

23   two seats under the current restriction of the

24   state employment. Thus, we suggest that these



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2    restrictions in the constitution be reexamined to

3    determine the extent to which otherwise

4    qualified, civically engaged Latinos have been

5    prevented or deterred by the commission service,

6    for these restrictions.

7              With respect to the potential delay in

8    the delivery of resident data by the census to

9    the state of New York, Congress is considering

10   the legislation which would provide for a 120 day

11   delay in the delivery of census redistricting

12   data to states, which would mean the New York

13   might obtain its data as late as July 15, 2021.

14             Given that the state's commission can

15   complete its maps by as late as January 15, 2022,

16   it is possible for the commission to meet its

17   deadline, even with the delay in delivery of

18   data. However, the commission must take several

19   steps to ensure the public has a meaningful

20   opportunity to participate in the process, given

21   this delay. For example --

22             MODERATOR:           Time has expired.

23             MR. ROSA:          Oh, thank you.

24             SENATOR GIANARIS:                You can finish up,



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2    Juan, if you just have a couple more sentences.

3               MR. ROSA:         Yes, I'll finish up this one

4    sentence. Thank you, senator. Actually, no, we

5    will just submit the rest. Thank you, senator.

6               SENATOR GIANARIS:               Okay, thank you.

7    Next, we're going to hear from Lurie-Daniel-

8    Favors from Medgar Evers Center for Law and

9    Social Justice.

10              MS. LURIE DANIEL-FAVORS, INTERIM

11   EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL

12   JUSTICE:    Hello, good morning. I apologize as

13   lawn mowers literally just started blowing

14   outside my window. Hopefully you are still able

15   to hear me well. Greetings to all, and thank you

16   for the opportunity to present today. My name is

17   Lurie Daniel-Favors and I am the interim

18   executive director and general counsel at Center

19   for Law and Social Justice, a unit at Medgar

20   Evers College at CUNY.

21              At the outset, I would be remiss if I

22   did not state that if this body is considering a

23   constitutional amendment to make a correction and

24   eliminate the minority party detail plan which is



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2    currently contemplated in the redistricting

3    commission provisions of the state constitution,

4    I would be very happy to comment on that and

5    would encourage your investigation of that

6    option.

7              As it now stands, we don't see how a

8    minority party veto aids black voters and voters

9    of color across the state, and to the contrary,

10   this provision is actually disempowering to

11   members of these communities. And if this body is

12   considering such an amendment, it should be

13   publicly announced as soon as possible so that we

14   can provide comment and we would welcome the

15   opportunity to do so.

16             During our 35-year history, CLSJ has

17   consistently worked to defend the voting rights

18   of New Yorkers of African descent and other

19   racial minority New Yorkers. We have led or co-

20   led numerous historic voting rights advocacy

21   initiatives or litigation across the state, the

22   details of which are contained in our written

23   testimony.

24             As it pertains to the upcoming



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2    redistricting cycle, we continue to advocate that

3    new districts be drawn such that they comply with

4    the Voting Rights Act one person, one vote rule.

5    While the Supreme Court adopted a stricter

6    standard for congressional districts than those

7    employed for state and local districts, equitable

8    access to the ballot requires the state

9    legislature to seek to achieve population

10   equality among the state legislative districts.

11             Thanks to improvements in computer

12   software, population equality is far more

13   possible today than it was even ten years ago.

14             And this is particularly notable in

15   light of the nationwide calls for racial equity

16   and justice following the killings of members of

17   our community like George Floyd, Brianna Taylor,

18   Ahmaud Arbery and the many others who have lost

19   their lives due to systemic racist violence.

20             It would be untenable to face another

21   decade in New York State with small districts

22   upstate and larger districts downstate,

23   particularly when these disparately drawn

24   districts disenfranchise wholesale black



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2    communities and communities of color on a

3    statewide basis.

4              The requirements of the Voting Rights

5    Act must also be adhered to. As noted by my

6    colleagues the SCOTUS Shelby decision gutted the

7    Section 5 provision preclearance provision of the

8    VRA and with that demise, New York State must

9    pass a state Voting Rights Act which contains a

10   preclearance provision into law, particularly due

11   to the fact that several New York jurisdictions

12   were covered by the VRA Section 5. And underlying

13   reasons for that coverage have not been

14   ameliorated and a state Voting Rights Act is

15   necessary. According to Section 2 of the Voting

16   Rights Act, redistricting plans must not unfairly

17   [unintelligible] [00:31:04] minority voting

18   strength and they should not be drawn such that

19   they reduce the number of minority, majority

20   minority districts. Nor, such that the minority

21   population percentage is reduced to such a level

22   that it makes more challenging for minority

23   voters to continue electing candidates of their

24   choice.



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2              In light of these requirements, and the

3    history of the racially polarized voting

4    [unintelligible] [00:31:23] in New York,

5    including New York City, when drawing minority

6    majority districts, we maintain that the minority

7    voting population should be at leave 55 percent

8    to ensure that minority voters will be able to

9    elect candidates of their choice.

10             The reformed state redistricting process

11   must be transparent and open, which means that

12   the commission should make public all of its

13   redistricting criteria and procedures. There

14   should be public access to redistricting data

15   within weeks of its receipt from the state by the

16   Census Bureau, and there should be as many public

17   hearings across the state as possible with

18   several densely populated area of the state.

19             This is particularly significant as the

20   commission must hear directly from the people,

21   especially during this heightened age of mass

22   civic engagement. This is how we ensure that the

23   process is informed of the concerns and values of

24   community leaders, residents and activists. Those



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2    voice must not only be welcomed, but they must be

3    centered throughout the process.

4              To these ends we urge that you make your

5    data publicly available and that you advocate for

6    the redistricting commission to hold as many

7    public hearings as possible.

8              It must also be noted that contrary to

9    the provisions the New York State Constitution,

10   which calls for the members of the commission to

11   reflect the diversity of residents of this state

12   with regards to race, ethnicity, gender, language

13   and geographic residence, there is currently a

14   stunning lack of diversity to the current

15   composition of the commission. Current membership

16   only includes one man and one woman of African

17   descent and does not include a single Asian or

18   Latinx member. Racial, gender and geographic

19   equity must be enforced for all redistricting

20   bodies and their staff.

21             Additionally, as noted, legislators must

22   advocate to maintain the end of prison

23   gerrymandering. While prison gerrymandering was

24   addresses in 2010, it has not yet been resolved



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2    for the 2020 cycle and we're demanding that this

3    commitment to abolishing prison gerrymandering

4    for the purpose of redistricting continues. And

5    we ask that our legislators do the same. And to

6    be clear, this is a part of the process that can

7    happen now. The prisons are well aware of the

8    jurisdictions from whence incarcerated persons

9    come and they do not wait until 2021 to receive

10   additional data. And we encourage for you to

11   advocate for them to start now.

12             We also know the commission has not been

13   empowered by a budget and cannot functionally

14   operate. The commissioners are volunteers and

15   need to have administrative backing behind them

16   in order to be effective. Upon current knowledge,

17   it remains an open question as to whether or not

18   the legislature will allow the commission to use

19   the LATFOR agency or if the legislative body will

20   retain control over LATFOR for its own use. We

21   are encouraging you to give it over to the

22   commission so that the redistricting process has

23   the full benefit of the decades of knowledge held

24   by this agency.



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2                 Thank you and we look forward to

3    remaining engaged with you and all interested

4    parties to ensure the equitable drawing of maps

5    that reflect the true diversity of New York

6    State.

7                 SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Lurie, I

8    appreciate it I also appreciate the dynamic

9    camera work and the mobile nature of your

10   testimony. And you reminded me. I should have

11   apologized in advance. We're all in New York, so

12   if anyone hears helicopter noise, or airplane

13   noise, welcome to Queens.

14                For questions, we're asking the

15   legislators that are interested to raise hair

16   hand and I don't mean actually raise your hand. I

17   mean hit the raise hand button on this Zoom

18   application. And then you'll be called on. We're

19   going to alternate between the Senate and the

20   Assembly. And I will begin with a question.

21                There were a couple of witnesses that

22   had made reference to unconstitutional provisions

23   of the constitution in Article 3 as it relates to

24   things that are over 100 years old that have



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2    since been ruled invalid by various rulings of

3    the Supreme Court and otherwise. So, I guess this

4    is a question for Blair Horner. Can you just

5    outline what those provisions are or at least

6    some of them, so we get a sense of what we're

7    referring to?

8              MR. HORNER:           Well, in the state

9    constitution, there is language that basically

10   allocates legislators based on geography instead

11   of population. And, the Supreme Court, as Susan

12   mentioned, in the 1960s struck down those

13   provisions for the country, and said you should

14   adhere to a system of one person, one vote.

15             Now, I don't know why that language is

16   still in there. I mean, you would think it would

17   have occurred to people in 2012, that having dead

18   letter language in the state constitution doesn't

19   make any sense and they should take it out. I

20   never got a good explanation as to why it was in

21   there other than they were too busy. So, the

22   fundamental issue really is the issue of basing

23   legislative district on something other than

24   population.



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2              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you. Thank you

3    very much, Blair. And I think that Susan Lerner

4    mentioned as well. Do you have anything that you

5    want to add to that?

6              MS. LERNER:           Yes. In my written

7    testimony, I specified the provisions that I

8    believe should be stricken, in Article 3, it's

9    Section 4D and specific language in Section 5.

10   And, we also recommend that language in 4C, which

11   references state constitutional standards, should

12   be stricken.

13             I fear that the unconstitutional

14   language was left in and this additional

15   reference made to muddy the waters should there

16   be any litigation on further maps. And so we

17   believe for clarity's sake and just, you know,

18   good drafting, that the unconstitutional

19   provisions should be removed, along with the

20   reference language.

21             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Susan.

22             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Senator,

23   thanks. I want to first mention that we're joined

24   by Assembly Member Palmesano and Assembly Member



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2    Goodell, and our first assembly member to ask

3    questions will be Assembly Member Buchwald.

4                ASSEMBLY MEMBER DAVID BUCHWALD:                        Hi,

5    thank you, Chairman Zebrowski and to all the

6    chairs and everyone for putting together today's

7    hearing and to all of the panelists who

8    presented. First, just as a, [unintelligible]

9    [00:37:13] for clarification, I think a statement

10   was made that there are no Asian Americans on the

11   commission and I think that's incorrect. I think

12   one of senate majority leader appointees

13   qualifies.

14               But my question is more broadly, and for

15   any panelist who wants to answer, a lot of the

16   remarks up until now have been about what changes

17   can and should be made to the state constitution

18   following up on the last constitutional

19   amendment. As everyone knows, our state

20   constitution, the process for amending it is a

21   multistage process that takes at least a few

22   years, couple of passages through the state

23   legislature and then a vote of the people of New

24   York.



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2              So, my more immediate question is, with

3    the upcoming redistricting, under the existing

4    constitutional provisions, what proposals do

5    folks have as to how to address the concerns that

6    have been expressed without yet getting to the

7    further constitutional amendments, because we're

8    going to have a section of redistricting that

9    affects us for the next decade, and I'd like to

10   hear the non-constitutional amendment solutions.

11             I do take note of some of the points

12   made about appropriate appointments for the

13   remaining commissioners and so forth, but in

14   terms of the process the commission actually uses

15   within the framework, that is laid out as is now,

16   what are the steps that you think the commission

17   itself, or the legislature should be taking to

18   make sure that it is as productive and fair of a

19   process as possible? And I direct that to whoever

20   wants to take up the question.

21             MR. HORNER:           I'll take an initial crack

22   at it. I mean the -- you know, as Susan mentioned

23   earlier, there are a number of issues that you

24   could do constitutionally, but you could pass



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2    legislation to I think strengthen the prison

3    gerrymandering issue more clearly. And one of the

4    complaints that I've heard is since it passed in

5    2010, the constitutional amendment was passed in

6    2012, and did not include it that that might be

7    an opportunity for mayhem. And so clarifying that

8    that, in fact, is the law of the land, although I

9    do know if you need a law to do that, but

10   certainly some mechanism to make it clear to the

11   commission they should include it would be one.

12                ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD:                     Mr. Horner,

13   could I just ask, is the existing statute, did it

14   expire or is it still on the books and applies?

15   And --

16                MR. HORNER:           It's still on the books.

17                ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD:                     And can you

18   just explain then why you believe the existing

19   statute, which as far as I know was adhered to in

20   the 2010 or 2011 redistricting, why that isn't

21   sufficient?

22                MR. HORNER:           Well, no, I think it would

23   be sufficient. I mean I have heard people argue,

24   that it is an issue because the passage of the



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2    constitutional amendment occurred after the use

3    of it. But, again there's no -- you're right, the

4    commission should follow the law and that is the

5    law. The deadlines, you might be able to

6    statutorily move them up beyond, although the

7    constitution obviously trumps any statutory

8    deadlines.

9              It's important that the commission act

10   more quickly. I agree with Susan, that the

11   deadlines that would have to be moved up. I think

12   you could also argue to change the, through

13   statute, to change the population variance. Right

14   now under the Supreme Court decisions, the map

15   makers have up to ten percent range in terms of

16   population size, and as mentioned by one of the

17   other testifiers that the senate districts in

18   particular, the senate district have large

19   populations, vis-a-vis upstate senate and the

20   opposite is true in the Assembly, so those are

21   issues that you can deal with I think

22   constitution -- I'm sorry, statutorily.

23             But, I think it's really going to come

24   down to the commission and the resources it has



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2    to getting the job done. And the commission is

3    not fully appointed yet. It does not reflect the

4    diversity of the State. And they're going to have

5    a hell of a time to try to meet the various

6    deadlines that are in the state constitution,

7    even if you were able to move them up.

8               And so I think that's really where the

9    action is in terms of statutory changes or

10   budgetary changes for the commission.

11              MS. LERNER:          And I would like to add

12   that I think some of the things that we are

13   proposing including, as Lurie Daniels-Favors

14   mentioned, the minority veto provisions, even

15   though they need to be changed constitutionally,

16   they could through an immediate process be

17   changed before the final votes on the maps are

18   necessary. So, even with a constitutional change,

19   I believe that there's significant ways in which

20   that constitutional provision can be timely

21   changed.

22              ASSEMBLY MEMBER BUCHWALD:                    Thank you,

23   everyone. I see my time is up.

24              SENATOR GIANARIS:               Thank you,



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2    assemblyman. We have also been joined by Senators

3    Shelley Mayer, Gustavo Rivera, Jim Gaughran and

4    senator Zellnor Myrie. And I would go to Senator

5    Myrie for a question.

6              SENATOR ZELLNOR MYRIE:                   Sorry, I was

7    just waiting to be unmuted. Firstly, good morning

8    to everyone and thank you to all of the

9    panelists. I wanted to direct this question

10   primarily to Lurie and L. Joy, but obviously

11   welcome responses from the rest of the panel. My

12   concern is mostly around the communities of color

13   that will be impacted by a census undercount, and

14   no protection from Section 5, or it used to be

15   known as Section 5 in the federal VRA. And I'm

16   wondering if you can speak to what the

17   implications might be if we do not have that

18   protection and there is an undercount in our

19   communities, what that means for redistricting,

20   what that means for the political power of

21   communities of color all across the state.

22             MS. WILLIAMS:             Well, you know, I'm going

23   to start off by first in our written testimony

24   talking first and foremost, as you mentioned,



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2    about the census. And while obviously, the census

3    has been significantly impacted by the pandemic

4    that we are experiencing and that we all

5    experienced here in the state of New York, I

6    think that it is unacceptable that organizations

7    like ours, who are all volunteers, organizations

8    were able to quickly determine how we can

9    continue to do our census outreach and operation

10   in the midst of a pandemic to ensure our

11   communities were counted. However, the state

12   process has been stunted.

13             And so, I find it very disappointing

14   that a state with its resources, with the plan

15   and execution that we are still, the State is

16   still on hold in terms of how it's properly and

17   I'm talking this is separate from whatever

18   advertisement that may exist. Advertisement is

19   different from outreach. It is a method of

20   outreach, but it is not the sole determinant of

21   how we ensure that people are counted within our

22   communities.

23             And so the first piece that I would say

24   about the census is obviously before we even get



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2    to a redistricting process, we also have to make

3    sure that people in New York State are properly

4    counted. We saw and have experienced for the last

5    decade what an undercount means in terms of

6    resources for our community and our federal

7    government. We already send more money than we

8    actually give back. Why give the federal

9    government additional ammunition to keep our

10   money? So, that's one.

11             And so, I urge the legislators to call

12   the state and operation to task on what is

13   happening and what is the quick method, because

14   if volunteers are able to quickly come together

15   via Zoom and figure out how we can execute a

16   census operation to ensure our communities are

17   counted, by all means the state should do so.

18             And to your point, your later point in

19   terms of what this means, this also means that if

20   we do not have an accurate count, when we get to

21   redistricting, that creates this fight and this

22   tension for resources and for seats that

23   additionally as the political connotation in it

24   where we're then putting groups against each



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2    other in terms of political representation.

3              And so, it has disastrous effect for

4    people of color. You can go throughout the

5    history in the State of New York on how many

6    times the NAACP had to sue and black people in

7    general have had to sue in the State to ensure

8    that we have proper equal political

9    representation in this state.

10             We did that on local levels across the

11   State, in terms of the expansion of New York City

12   Council, expansion in other councils and school

13   boards across this state. And so if we did not

14   start from that premise, and then also make sure

15   that we have proper representation and equity

16   throughout the process, we are setting our state

17   up again to not only receive our fair share from

18   resources, but further create political fighting

19   within the State, and then, again, have a whole

20   other decade where we are scrapping for

21   resources. And who that hurts is always people of

22   color that end up being at the bottom.

23             MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:                I would also add

24   that, with the absence of a Section 5



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2    preclearance provision, the redistricting, the

3    portions of our state that were covered by

4    Section 5 would have had to submit their

5    redistricting plans for evaluation and approval

6    prior to implementation.

7              The fact that we do not have a Section 5

8    now means that those same jurisdictions, and

9    quite frankly others that were not covered but

10   all honesty should have been, are not going to be

11   held to the same standards of equity as it

12   pertains to redistricting outcomes. And so, echo,

13   in addition to what Joy said, there's just a

14   practical matter of needing to have that

15   additional referee on the field, who's going to

16   make sure that the plans that are created are

17   going to center the same principles that govern

18   the application of Section 5.

19             And it's to be noted that the Section 5

20   covered those portions of our state because the

21   need was ongoing. It had not been ameliorated.

22   The issues that brought these portions of our

23   state under the coverage of section 5 are still

24   in a position where they require that level of



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2    coverage and supervision. And so, I think having

3    a statewide version is going to be fundamentally

4    important, not only for redistricting but

5    ensuring access to voting rights going forward.

6              And I would finally add it would be

7    extraordinarily helpful if the $70 million that

8    had been pledged to the state organizations and

9    municipalities, for census outreach to go beyond

10   the media activism that Joy mentioned were

11   actually released. There was an entire process

12   the governor announced in January. I actually

13   spoke at the announcing conference and we were

14   very excited about that and there has been radio

15   silence on those funds ever since. So we need

16   those funds to be distributed now, like two

17   months ago, and that in and of itself would be

18   significant as it pertains to helping to ensure

19   that the first portion of this issue, the

20   accurate count work was not going to be

21   undermined.

22             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you both.

23             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Senator,

24   thanks. And I'll take the next question and for



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2    Panelist Favors, you mentioned briefly and said

3    you would expand upon it, that you felt that the

4    minority veto would or could disenfranchise

5    minority communities. Just so we have a complete

6    record, could you expand on that? You said you'd

7    be happy to expand on it, but I only heard that

8    one sentence.

9               MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:               Yes, are you able to

10   hear me?

11              ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                     Yes.

12              MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:               Okay. So yes, so the

13   minority veto as noted by myself and others, is

14   something that because voters of color across the

15   state are not equitably enrolled in various

16   parties, the minority veto is something that

17   could really work to harm communities of African

18   descent, communities of color across the state

19   because, it is essentially a provision that is

20   not going to recognize the needs and the sanctity

21   of those communities to have their preferences

22   and to have their engagement with this process

23   recognized and respected.

24              And, because the minority provision



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2    essentially, now that we have two members or both

3    houses, I'm sorry, both the Assembly and the

4    Senate are both led by members of the same party,

5    it essentially cedes the approval of the

6    redistricting plans to the party that is not in

7    power. And, so, that is a provision that will

8    work to harm communities of color, particularly,

9    communities of African descent simply because it

10   does not allow for the equitable consideration of

11   the concerns that go into determining where

12   boundary lines should be drawn because, voters of

13   color are not equitably enrolled across those two

14   parties.

15              ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                     Thank you.

16              SENATOR GIANARIS:               Okay, next on the

17   list, I have Senator Brad Hoylman.

18              SENATOR HOYLMAN:              Thank you, Senator

19   Gianaris and thank you for bringing us together

20   here along with my Assembly colleagues and it's

21   appropriate that we've heard already from Senator

22   Myrie, the elections chair, who represents a

23   district that looks like a steam shovel. I think

24   people know about those lines in his district.



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2              I just wanted to follow up on the census

3    question. Because it's of great concern that not

4    only are communities not possibly being counted,

5    of course, the black and brown communities which

6    is of great concern, but, also, the census itself

7    may be delayed due to COVID-19 and I was

8    wondering if any of the panelists had thoughts on

9    how the delay of even an inaccurate count of the

10   census will have an impact on redistricting

11   moving forward.

12             And, my district, some of my

13   neighborhoods, you know, have responded to the

14   rate of like, less than 40 percent in some

15   neighborhoods due to COVID-19. Any thoughts from

16   any of the panelists on that point?

17             MS. WILLIAMS:             I think this is where an

18   issue I believe that Susan and others mentioned

19   this where the state needs to be nimble and make

20   sure that we have dates that sync up, this is

21   things that we can do now to the process. I know

22   that the federal government has put out an

23   adjusted timeline as it pertains, right now, so,

24   us taking action on the adjusted timeline as it's



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2    been put out right now and then what are some of

3    the things that we can do leading up to and in

4    preparation for the redistricting process.

5              So, I think the timeline certainly has a

6    direct effect and particularly as we talk about

7    municipal elections that happen all across the

8    state and as people are running for lines next

9    year that will have to change, you know, further,

10   so. Those are -- the calendar is something that

11   we have to pay close attention to and be nimble

12   enough that the session should not end, that the

13   year should not end without the legislature

14   addressing these issues as it pertains to the

15   schedule right now.

16             MR. HORNER:           And, senator, just to add

17   one thing on that. I mean when you think about

18   it, by the way, it's the huge unknown. I mean who

19   know what the pandemic brings us, right. So as of

20   now, you could have the commission dealing with

21   the month of August when generally, people take

22   vacation, and the first half of September, to get

23   their act -- to get maps ready and materials out

24   and everything, to hold public hearings across



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2    percent the state and that really is hard.

3              Now they could be doing a lot of work to

4    prepare for that in advance. And, that's why

5    getting the commission up to speed quickly

6    matters. But the census timetable, assuming it's

7    the same next summer, gives it essentially

8    including work weekends, somewhere in the

9    neighborhood of 45 days to get the work done and

10   that's going be really hard.

11             The timetable that's contemplated in the

12   constitution was based on a non-pandemic, which

13   of course why would they expect otherwise, and

14   primaries being in September. And, those are real

15   problems in terms of the commission getting your

16   work done.

17             MS. LERNER:           You know, there is no

18   question that the commission is going to be

19   squeezed in terms of the timeframe, but I would

20   agree with Blair that advanced preparation is

21   absolutely essential. You know, there will be

22   some surprising demographic shifts, but,

23   demographic trends are pretty obvious through the

24   ACS during the entire preceding decade. And there



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2    are ways in which proper staffing and preparation

3    can ensure that the commission is ready to draw

4    down the demographic data, do the necessary

5    evaluation, and have clear guidance in advance

6    from the commission in terms of the standards

7    which are to be applied in the map drawing.

8                As Lurie pointed out, we have advanced

9    technology. We had it in the last cycle. It is

10   usually the process of negotiating the politics

11   of the district lines that take more time than

12   the actual application of the technology to the

13   data.

14               ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Okay, and, I

15   want to first mention that, Assembly Member

16   Hyndman has joined us and our next assembly

17   member, that's looking to ask questions is

18   Assembly Member Goodell.

19               ASSEMBLY MEMBER ANDREW GOODELL:                        I'm not

20   sure if you can hear me or not.

21               ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Yes, yes, we

22   can.

23               ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL:                     Okay. Thank

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



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2    mentioned that the minority voters should be

3    represented at 55 percent if possible. Now, as

4    you know, there are two ways to eliminate

5    representation by members to the minority. One is

6    by dilution, reducing them by gerrymandering so

7    that they don't have a controlling influence. The

8    other approach though is the opposite, by

9    consolidating them all into one district so that

10   the remaining districts that are around there,

11   are clearly not under any influence of being

12   taken over, if you will, or having a minority

13   representative. How do you balance those two

14   conflicting approaches, and, what are your

15   recommendations on how we approach that? I would

16   point out by the way, in a competitive district,

17   it's not your basic results in winning or losing

18   an election, it's your swing voters, how do you

19   balance those?

20             MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:                Well, I think as

21   just noted by Susan, the capacity to have access

22   to technology really does help us to draw

23   districts that are neither packed nor cracked. I

24   think that there is a world that exists between



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2    those two goals that when applying principles of

3    equity and when applying principles of justice in

4    line with the principles that have been outlined

5    for us by the courts, we are definitely able to

6    draw districts that are reflective of the

7    diversity of the state, and that empower minority

8    communities to be able to have an equitable shot

9    at electing candidates of their choice.

10               And I think this is not something new,

11   this is something that we have seen done before.

12   And so long as we're adhering to those same

13   principles, and we're centering the needs of the

14   community and employing the access that we have

15   now to technology, which in 2010 was allowing for

16   equitable drawing of districts, and has only

17   improved since that time, I do not think that we

18   are stuck between the two. I think it's a false

19   choice to look only at packing or cracking a

20   district.

21               And there are certainly tools available

22   to us now, particularly in light of having the

23   access of time that we do right now with

24   forewarning and proper preparation, that we apply



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2    the judicial principles that should be guiding

3    these decisions, along with the technology to

4    ensure that these districts are equitably drawn

5    in ways that empower minority communities to have

6    access to the ballot and to have access to

7    putting candidates into office reflective of

8    their two choices.

9              ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL:                     Would it be

10   your recommendation then you look at all of

11   demographic factors that you've mentioned,

12   including communities, neighborhoods, school

13   districts, things of that nature, trying to group

14   people of similar interests and concerns

15   together, rather than perhaps using an artificial

16   threshold like 55 percent that would be packing

17   or, a lower threshold?

18             MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:                Well, I think if

19   your 55 percent is informed by the principles of

20   communities of interest, both existing and

21   emerging communities of interest, then I think

22   that you can strike gold. District plans should

23   not divide populations and communities that have

24   those common needs and interests as you noted.



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2    And they can be drawn in ways that not just only

3    consider census data, but they could also be

4    informed by demographic studies, by surveys and

5    sociological economic data to determine the

6    shared social and economic characteristics of

7    each community.

8              As we testified in 2010, some of those

9    social and economic characteristics that should

10   be considered include, but are certainly not

11   limited to, income level diversity, educational

12   backgrounds, housing patterns and living

13   conditions, language and cultural

14   characteristics, employment and economic

15   patterns, health and environmental conditions.

16             All of these elements and pieces of data

17   should be used to inform how these districts are

18   shaped and they should be used to inform that 55

19   percent threshold that we are suggesting.

20             ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL:                     I would agree

21   with all of the comments that you made with the

22   exception of an artificial percentage. And, I

23   agree that our mission should be to avoid either

24   cramming or cracking. And so, I would hope that



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2    as we move forward, we don't set artificial

3    criteria, but look at all of the diverse factors

4    that you mentioned, which I think are incredibly

5    important.

6              I have one other question for any of the

7    panelists. There's a lot of talk about the

8    minority veto that's contained in the

9    constitution. As you know, we for the first time

10   in many years, at least a decade, have split

11   houses with the Senate and the Assembly. We saw

12   what happened when the Senate was under

13   Republican control. We had small districts in New

14   York, I'm sorry, small districts upstate, large

15   districts downstate. The flip occurred in the

16   Assembly. My district was the largest in terms of

17   population. And the assembly districts in New

18   York City were as small as they could be so they

19   could squeeze out a couple of extra members.

20             If we eliminate the requirement that

21   both parties agree that the redistricting is

22   fundamentally fair, what would you suggest we do

23   to protect the minority parties from being

24   gerrymandered out of existence?



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2              MS. LERNER:           So, in my written

3    testimony, I suggest that the way in which to

4    alleviate those sorts of concerns for

5    gerrymandering by either party in their own self

6    interest, would be to ensure that the final maps

7    must contain, the majority which would approve

8    final maps, must include at least one

9    unaffiliated member of the commission who, one

10   would assume, does not have a particular

11   political favorite. And therefore, would be

12   representative of a class of voters who remain

13   pretty much unrepresented in our process, which

14   is the large number of unaffiliated voters. And

15   so, I think that that would ensure a fairer and

16   more open process in the final maps.

17             ASSEMBLY MEMBER GOODELL:                     Thank you, my

18   team time is up, but I would note a lot of

19   unaffiliated voters are anything but

20   unaffiliated. Their only unaffiliation is their

21   registration and, if we wanted to follow that

22   process, we might want to consider having the

23   commission representatives reflect the percentage

24   of registered but unaffiliated voters. Thank you



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2    very much for your comments.

3              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you,

4    assemblyman. And next we have Senator Gustavo

5    Rivera.

6              SENATOR GUSTAVO RIVERA:                    Thank you.

7    Thank you, senator. And thanks, everyone who is

8    here today. My question is for Ms. Williams, a

9    pleasure to see you, ma'am. You mentioned

10   previously that the state needs to engage in

11   additional outreach and participation for

12   redistricting process. So I wanted to have you

13   expand on that, beyond the hearing, what exactly

14   do you mean?

15             MS. WILLIAMS:             Yeah, I think this is an

16   important point because I believe that people

17   believe that the extension of outreach is just on

18   the hearings, that you come and testify, and,

19   that's outreach. We talk to the community. And,

20   rather than having a process in which people are

21   active participants in the process of drawing

22   lines, and I'll do this by giving an example.

23             In a previous timeframe, I served on a

24   local community board for nearly a decade,



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2    serving as a vice chair of our land use committee

3    at that time, where we actually rezoned Bedford

4    Stuyvesant. And in doing that process, there is

5    the official process that happens, right, where

6    the council actually puts it out and do the

7    guidance and things of that nature.

8              But we did additional steps in the

9    summer, before the process started. And those

10   additional steps were walking through the

11   neighborhood, talking to people and sort of

12   creating -- and looking at what is existing, how

13   people were using the space in different ways, in

14   order to create the zoning that we now have.

15             The state can do a similar process and

16   the commission and elected leaders should do a

17   similar process as it pertains to redistricting.

18   Certainly, I'm not suggesting y'all walk the

19   state of New York, although that wrote be a great

20   reality show.

21             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    I commit to

22   walking in my district, certainly, that's like

23   you can walk around in my district.

24             MS. WILLIAMS:             Right. But that we



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2    actively invite people as Lurie mentioned, sort

3    of in this heightened period that we are of civic

4    engagement and actively invite people that as we

5    are preparing to draw maps and draw district

6    lines, that you begin to give the commission,

7    give that additional information on the

8    communities that exist within the districts in

9    order to keep them together as we are using the

10   mapping technology.

11             So yes, technology is great, and

12   everyone who knows me knows that, you know, that

13   is something that I invest in and use. But,

14   mapping software cannot tell you the break of a

15   community that may be like, you know, different

16   people living together or certain housing

17   buildings and things of that nature, right. And

18   so, I think that the commission, the elected

19   leaders have to invite the public beyond public

20   hearings, to actually participate in the process.

21   I know that last time, we had draw your own maps,

22   and that kind of software online, but actively

23   invite people to participate in the process of

24   drawing lines of their community for their



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2    political power because people vote based upon

3    their community. They vote based upon the

4    resources and the things that they need within

5    their community.

6              So making a redistricting process absent

7    that community, absent that outreach, is taking

8    out that life, that engagement that happens on a

9    daily basis and also happens as it pertains to

10   our politics.

11             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    Would you agree

12   then that also, that there needs to be a

13   commitment from the commission that such

14   participation is actually going to be taken into

15   account in a real way, so it's not just

16   ornamental?

17             MS. WILLIAMS:             I would say, that is

18   similar to my call in my testimony as well about

19   making sure that the entire process has focused

20   principles of equity and diversity. So I don't

21   want to also, you know, hear commission members

22   or elected say yes, we're committed to diversity,

23   like I want to see a report specifically on how

24   the staff, the vendors, and everybody that is



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2    involved in this process, you know, demonstrates

3    that commitment.

4              So, a line that I'm similar to say

5    saying, I don't want to just see the mural in the

6    press conference, I want to see the actual work

7    that you did to demonstrate your commitment to

8    those principles.

9              ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    Okay. Thank

10   you. That's my time. Thank you, senator.

11             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Assembly

12   Member Epstein.

13             ASSEMBLY MEMBER HARVEY EPSTEIN:                        I want

14   to thank the panelists. I want to thank the

15   chairs for holdings this important hearing. I

16   mean this is a really important topic and I think

17   so few people actually know anything about

18   redistricting. And I guess really, this goes to

19   the crux of what we're trying to do is how do we

20   engage people in a really meaningful conversation

21   and where do we find people where they're at. And

22   I'm wondering if we should be using existing

23   systems and structures in place, like our CUNY

24   and SUNY systems, our schools, you know, our



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2    places of higher education, our places of worship

3    instead of just having this traditional like come

4    to a public hearing and talk about redistricting.

5    And really how do people dig in deeper so we can

6    have meaningful change and meaningful input. And

7    I'm not sure it's geared to any specific panelist

8    but I'd love to hear people's feedback.

9              MS. LERNER So, in the New York City

10   redistricting, Common Cause developed a series of

11   workshops along with partners to engage

12   communities in a mapping exercise and thinking

13   tangibly about what districts should look like.

14   My favorite one was one we conducted in Sunset

15   Park, where we have to have translators for both

16   Spanish and Chinese.

17             I would certainly recommend to all of

18   the elected officials who are here today that you

19   could be leading similar discussions in your own

20   districts. It was shocking to me for the New York

21   City redistricting, that virtually none of the

22   city council members engaged their constituents

23   in that sort of a dialogue. And I would hope

24   that, you know, the legislators would want to



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2    interact with their constituents, provide some

3    services in helping them tangibly engage with the

4    way in which people live, work and gather in

5    their particular areas, which is a mapping

6    process.

7               We are more than happy to share our

8    experience with any legislators in leading those

9    sorts of discussions, and that could then be

10   handed to the commission. The commission itself

11   should be encouraged to develop community mapping

12   resources, not just technology, but guidelines

13   for how to facilitate that sort of discussion.

14              MS. DANIEL-FLAVORS:                But also I'd like

15   to add to that, thank you so much for that,

16   Susan. At the Center for Law and Social Justice,

17   we, in collaboration with the members of the New

18   York Voting Rights Consortium, Asian-American

19   Legal Defense Fund and Latino Justice, engaged in

20   a unity maps project over the past two cycles,

21   where we came together for exactly that purpose.

22   Not only to involve the community but to ensure

23   that the community was clear about what the

24   redistricting process is, add a voice in helping



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2    to determine, as Joy mentioned, where do our

3    communities start and end, and it was one that

4    was able to uphold principles of equity as it

5    pertains to representation and fairness.

6               And so I think this is a process that

7    certainly is one that various organizations have

8    been involved in. And it's something that I think

9    elected officials certainly could be doing more

10   as it pertains to engaging your community

11   members.

12              But organizations that are represented

13   here and others that will be testifying later are

14   already in the process of having those

15   conversations. Support for that work would be

16   wonderful. And being clear about value that

17   communities bring to this process in the ways

18   that allow them to determine what their

19   communities look like I think is very, very

20   important. And so that unity maps project is a

21   project that is ongoing. And it's something that

22   we will be doing again in this round, and they

23   were literally able to create a set of New York

24   State maps that respected and built upon the



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2    strength of the historically recognized racially

3    protected groups under the Voting Rights Act. And

4    we were able to increase the number of districts

5    from [unintelligible] [01:12:21] Asian

6    congressional district and kept communities of

7    interest intact and avoided that typical cracking

8    and packing of voters that I had mentioned

9    earlier.

10              MR. HORNER:          If I could just add one

11   thing, on the colleges you referenced, I mean we

12   have affiliates at a bunch of SUNY, CUNY and some

13   private schools. And we found getting people

14   engaged is hard because it's a pretty esoteric

15   topic. And just by reading the state

16   constitution, the rules are I guess could be best

17   described as complicated.

18              But we, the last two cycles, we ran the

19   name that district contest, which was a big hit

20   on college campuses, one that became reasonably

21   well known was Abraham Lincoln riding a vacuum

22   cleaner in the cycle of 2002. And it was also a

23   way though to sort of get people engaged and to

24   talk about what happens.



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2               There was a district in, I think it was

3    in 2002, where the map was drawn to cut out

4    Hakeem Jefferies out of an assembly seat that he

5    was seeking to run for. And I think we all know

6    who he is now. So there's certainly ways to do

7    it, but the maps are the tool, and getting it

8    from the esoteric to real life has been certainly

9    for us the challenge. We're planning another

10   contest next year.

11              ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                    Thank you. I

12   think my time is up.

13              SENATOR GIANARIS:               Okay. Thank you,

14   assembly member. Next senator, Tom O'Mara.

15              ASSEMBLY MEMBER THOMAS F. O'MARA:                     Okay.

16   I think that's set now. Is that right? Can you

17   hear me?

18              SENATOR GIANARIS:               Yep.

19              ASSEMBLY MEMBER O'MARA:                   Okay. Thank

20   you. And thank you to the panelists that are here

21   today on this important topic, and I look forward

22   to the next two rounds of panelists as well. I

23   would note for the record that we did not receive

24   a witness list for these witnesses until a



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2    quarter to 10:00 this morning, when this hearing

3    started at 10:00. The witnesses have each

4    referenced their written statements submitted.

5    The minorities have not received those written

6    statements. So I hope we do at some point and

7    we'll be able to follow up with questioning of

8    these witnesses if we deem it necessary.

9              Further, each of the panelists and each

10   of the members that have spoken so far have

11   discussed their concerns over the timeline here,

12   the compressed timeline because of the census

13   being delayed.

14             However, while money has been

15   appropriated in this year's budget for the

16   funding of the Independent Redistricting

17   Commission, the majorities of the legislature

18   have not released that money to the commission,

19   therefore, they cannot hire executive directors,

20   they have no resources to have an initial meeting

21   and they have no resources to hire staff.

22             I just find that unconscionable in this

23   compressed time frame that we're talking about,

24   that these resources have not been released. The



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2    commission needs to get together because they

3    need to pick two independent commissioners from

4    amongst themselves. That needs to be done and

5    there needs to be hiring of executive directors

6    and staff. I would like the panelists here to

7    please comment on your thoughts on why this

8    funding has not been released, and do you think

9    it's important that that money be released as

10   soon as possible so that the commission's work

11   can commence. Thank you.

12             MS. DANIEL-FAVORS:                I guess I would just

13   offer I do not know why the funds have not been

14   released. It is untenable. And quite astounding

15   that we are at this point of this process

16   embarking on something this significant and the

17   body charged with shepherding us through the

18   process has not been properly funded. And I will

19   leave it there.

20             MS. WILLIAMS:             I will add that, you

21   know, I understand, and given the pandemic that

22   everyone is experiencing, that there are shifts

23   and delays in all of our operations, and so I

24   understand that. But here's where I think we can



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2    move forward on this is I think the hearing today

3    and in inviting us to participate and to express

4    the concerns and also the principles that the

5    commission, that the legislature and others will

6    need to have in place in order to move forward is

7    important.

8              But again, I know for a fact that

9    government can move quick when it decides it

10   wants to. And so in this instance, I think this

11   is one issue, recognizing the timeline,

12   recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on

13   all of us, on all our normal operations and on

14   our community operations, that we can quickly

15   come together and that government and our

16   leadership can quickly come together to execute a

17   plan that we can begin to hire and execute an

18   operation that will ensure that the state of New

19   York has a fair, equitable census and

20   redistricting process.

21             And so while, yes, I stand in agreement

22   with Lurie and others that we are behind, I also

23   know that with everybody committed to move

24   forward, we can do so.



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2              MR. HORNER:           I'll just add, I guess from

3    our perspective, yeah, the commission should get

4    moving, the money should flow. Hopefully the

5    hearing will act as a stimulant for that to

6    happen. But as, senator, I don't know if you were

7    here for my opening comments, but we were not big

8    fans of the commission in the first place. I have

9    to admit I am somewhat skeptical, but certainly

10   there's no reason for them not to get moving and

11   the money to flow and to hire the staff and then

12   we'll get to see what happens with them. There's

13   a lot of work that needs to be done.

14             We talked about getting the public

15   involved. And there's no reason why the

16   commission can't do some of that, even before

17   they get the census dated to start collecting the

18   kind of feedback that the Senate and Assembly is

19   seeking today.

20             ASSEMBLY MEMBER O'MARA:                    Thank you. I

21   would further note that none of the commission

22   members are testifying today. My understanding is

23   that they have not been requested to testify. My

24   understanding is that Speaker Heastie's



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2    appointment, Elaine Frazier, has specifically

3    requested to testify today and has been denied. I

4    am somewhat skeptical of this hearing as a whole.

5              I am concerned with the lack of moving

6    forward with the funding for this commission, the

7    fact that the commission is not involved today,

8    and I'm skeptical that the majority of the

9    legislature want the commission to fail, so

10   therefore the legislative majorities can then

11   draw the lines themselves. Thank you, Chairman.

12   Nothing further.

13             SENATOR GIANARIS:                thank you, Senator

14   O'Maraa. I will note that the testimony gets

15   uploaded to the senate website as we receive it,

16   so if you're interested in reviewing any of that,

17   it's available instantaneously and I myself, as

18   the co-chair of this hearing, only got the

19   witnesses list last night. So sometimes it's not

20   a conspiracy, it's just logistics working

21   themselves through.

22             I believe that's the last legislator

23   with questions so let me thank our first panel

24   for their time and their input and I will hand it



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2    over to Assembly Member Zebrowski for the second

3    panel.

4                 ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Thank you,

5    senator. Our second panel, I'll announce the

6    names and give our folks running the hearing

7    logistically the ability to get everybody up and

8    running. We'll have Jennifer Wilson from the

9    League of Women Voters, Arva Rice from the Urban

10   League, Amy Torres from the Chinese-American

11   Planning Council, Michael Li from the Brennan

12   Center and Jose Perez from Latino Justice. So

13   when everybody is up and ready, we will start

14   with Jennifer Wilson from the League of Women

15   Voters.

16                MS. JENNIFER WILSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR,

17   LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS:                 Hi, can you guys all see

18   and hear me? Okay. Fantastic.

19                ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      We can.

20                MS. WILSOM:           Great. Well, thank you

21   Senators Gianaris and Hoylman and Assembly

22   Members Rodriguez and Zebrowski for the

23   opportunity to testify today. I think it's great

24   that we're starting this process so early. My



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2    name is Jennifer Wilson. I'm the deputy director

3    of the League of Women Voters of New York State.

4    And you may remember the League was actually one

5    of the strong advocates in favor of 2014

6    constitutional amendment that created the new

7    redistricting commission.

8              And we believe that the amendment was a

9    significant improvement to the redistricting

10   status quo that had the potential to

11   fundamentally change elections in New York State.

12   And we were not the only ones who believed this

13   to be true. New York State voters were the ones

14   who ultimately voted to approve the

15   constitutional amendment.

16             Although we realize that some of our

17   good government partners may be seeking to amend

18   this process, our overwhelming interest here is

19   that the process the people supported, be given

20   the chance to work in the most transparent and

21   inclusive manner possible. And we're primarily

22   concerned with ensuring appropriate

23   representation on the commission, keeping

24   meetings open to the public, and allowing for



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2    ample community input, and providing assistance

3    to the commission in a manner that allows them to

4    remain independent, but also empowers them to

5    fulfill their mission.

6              And in addition to those procedural

7    concerns, we do recognize that there is an issue

8    with the timing with respect to the release of

9    the proposed maps and the June primary

10   petitioning process. We don't believe that that

11   needs to be a constitutional fix. We believe that

12   can be done statutorily through the legislature

13   to shorten the timeline for submitting the maps

14   to the legislature. It doesn't have to be done

15   through the constitution, especially considering

16   if we did do it through the constitution, that

17   wouldn't be in effect until January 1st of 2022

18   and at that point it's almost too late to have

19   that make any sort of impact.

20             But outside of that, one of our chief

21   concerns is still representation and in June of

22   this year, we had actually sent a letter to all

23   legislators and commission members that are

24   currently seated commission members urging them



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2    to consider the need for greater gender and

3    racial diversity on the commission.

4              Currently there is only one woman and no

5    Latinx members that have been appointed to the

6    ten-member commission. And, of course, we know

7    that women make up more than 50 percent of New

8    York's population and NALEAO has cited that more

9    than 20 percent of New Yorkers identify as

10   Latinx. We supported NALEAO Education Fund and

11   also Latino Justice in their call for Latinx

12   representation and believe that in order for the

13   commission to truly be representative of all New

14   Yorkers, these final two commissioners must

15   embody New York State's population.

16             We are also very concerned over the

17   undefined operational and procedural standards of

18   the commission. We would urge the legislature to

19   ensure that the commission adhere to open

20   meetings laws and that the commission receive

21   appropriate operational support that allows them

22   to remain independent while they work to fulfill

23   their mission.

24             In 2020-2021 budget, you allocated



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2    $750,000 for the commission through the

3    Department of State, which Senator O'Mara

4    mentioned previously, and we were very happy to

5    see this budget allocation, but we were very

6    confused as to why it was being made through the

7    Department of State, considering that the

8    commission is really supposed to work alongside

9    the legislature and there really isn't supposed

10   to be any sort of oversight or input from the

11   governor.

12               We assumed that the allocation would

13   have been paid out through the legislature

14   because of this. And the commission is

15   responsible for doing pretty everything itself,

16   as Senator O'Mara mentioned, hiring its own

17   staff, setting its own meetings, facilitating its

18   own meeting space. And it could really benefit

19   from assistance from an already operation a

20   agency or the legislature.

21               In California, their Independent

22   Citizens Redistricting Commission receives early

23   assistance from the Secretary of State there. The

24   California Secretary of State provides temporary



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2    staff and meeting space until the commission is

3    fully up and running, and we think here in New

4    York that could work really well, too. So either

5    you or the Department of State could offer some

6    sort of meeting space, some sort of temporary

7    staff until the commission could be fully set up.

8              And finally, I want to drive home the

9    importance of the ensuring that the commission

10   stays on target with regard to appointing its

11   final members and getting starting planning its

12   meetings. Recent commissions, including the New

13   York State Complete Count Commission and the New

14   York State Public Campaign Financing Commission

15   encountered serious issues because of delays in

16   their operations and a lack of staff assistance.

17   I'm not going to belabor those points, but I will

18   say both commissions started with the best of

19   intentions and were derailed because they didn't

20   have any staff and they had very little

21   assistance.

22             And that concludes my testimony. I want

23   to thank you all again for holdings this hearing

24   and we hope that you will review our full



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2    recommendations. We're very excited to see what

3    our first independent redistricting commission

4    will produce and we look forward to working

5    alongside LATFOR and the new commission on

6    ensuring ample public participation, public input

7    and transparency in the state process. Thank you.

8              ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Thank you

9    very much. I announced second Arva Rice from the

10   Urban League. I'm not sure I see that panelist

11   up. I'll give it a second, if not, we'll go to

12   the next person and come back.

13             MODERATOR:           Not present.

14             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Not present,

15   okay. Next up we have Amy Torres from the

16   Chinese-American Planning Council.

17             MS. AMY TORRES, DIRECTOR OF POLICY,

18   CHINESE-AMERICAN PLANNING COUNCIL:                      Thank you.

19   Good morning, everyone. Thank you to chairs and

20   members of both committees for the opportunity to

21   testify today. I'm just mahogany sure my volume

22   is working. Yes, it appears that it is, for the

23   opportunity to testify today. CPC is the nation's

24   largest social services organization for Asian



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2    Americans. We bridge social services to social

3    change for over 60,000 low-income immigrant and

4    Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers

5    each year. Our community members come from more

6    than 40 countries, speaking 25 distinct languages

7    and dialects. We provide over 50 contracted

8    programs in 35 sites throughout Manhattan,

9    Brooklyn and Queens. But we also serve a citywide

10   population that commute to our site there.

11             Our services range from support,

12   education [unintelligible] [01:27:41] empowerment

13   and [unintelligible] [01:27:42] programs often

14   [unintelligible] [01:27:43] in language

15   [unintelligible] [01:27:45].

16             In addition to our direct services work,

17   CPC conducts nonpartisan civic engagement and

18   education across our sites each year. We've been

19   very humble to join with many other organizations

20   testifying today on census outreach awareness and

21   education. And so for these reasons we feel well

22   poised to comment on the impacts of

23   reapportionment in our communities and again, we

24   appreciate the opportunity to share our



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2    recommendations.

3               I want to review a little bit some of

4    our experience and some of what we've been

5    looking at for self-response to date, and then

6    share a few top line recommendations of ours. The

7    neighborhoods that CPC serves and the communities

8    that we serve, these are communities that are

9    historically marginalized and alienated from the

10   political process. Before the census self-

11   response period began, the federal bureau's own

12   analysis found that Asian Americans and Pacific-

13   Islanders were 55 percent less likely to fill out

14   the census, 38 percent unfamiliar with the census

15   and 41 percent concerned that the census would be

16   used against them, forecasting that APIs would be

17   the least likely of all immigrant groups to

18   respond.

19              And indeed, in our own census outreach

20   and awareness efforts, we found that many of

21   these sentiments have only deepened between the

22   xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies that have

23   come out at the federal level, particularly once

24   the implementation of public charge happened,



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2    which was very close to the start of the self-

3    response period, as well as the rising hate

4    crimes and related incidents in the preceding and

5    early months of the COVID-19 pandemic where even

6    before cases were defected in the United States,

7    Asian Americans and particularly Chinese

8    Americans reported verbal harassment, public

9    shunning and customer discrimination at Asian-

10   serving businesses.

11               So as of July 8th, the July 8, 2020

12   reporting period from the bureau, Asians in New

13   York City overall lagged below the citywide self-

14   response average. The citywide response rate for

15   Asians is growing over time, but majority Asian

16   tracts in certain neighborhood remain

17   significantly below city and borough wide

18   averages.

19               For example, in South Ozone Park in

20   Richmond Hill, which is home to significant South

21   Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities response

22   rates are over ten percent behind city and

23   borough wide averages. We see similar lags in

24   Brooklyn, which has as borough has historically



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2    gone undercounted and in neighborhoods like

3    Bensonhurst and Sunset Park and Sheepshead Bay.

4    They're also falling significantly behind

5    citywide average, which is behind the nationwide

6    average as well.

7              And when we look outside New York City,

8    we know new migration trends in asylee and

9    refugee resettlement show that Asian American

10   communities are growing, particularly in regions

11   where those communities haven't historically

12   settled, so Greater Utica and Rome, Buffalo,

13   Albany, Syracuse and Rochester. And so we

14   understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has cause

15   both necessary operational and unintended delays

16   to census operations and response rates, so we

17   really want to issue two initial recommendations.

18             One is encouraging the final moment

19   point of remaining seats to be timely and more

20   reflective of communities across the state and to

21   commit to a robust public participation schedule.

22             As already mentioned, this is a new

23   process. It's untested. But the hope is that with

24   the right composition and engagement of the



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2    public, the resulting map will more closely

3    reflect the voters. The racial and gender

4    diversity of seated commissioners has raised

5    flags for advocates, a lot of which has been

6    mentioned already. And without tokenizing the

7    identity of commissioners appointed to date, we

8    hope that the existing appointees will consider

9    filling the final spots with commissioners who

10   are reflective, whether that's by geography, by

11   residency or experience of diverse and

12   marginalized communities.

13             That's impossible to deal with two

14   remaining seats, but as Ms. Williams mentioned in

15   her testimony, there are also aides and staff

16   engaged in this work and we hope for a

17   transparent process so that those individuals

18   more closely reflect communities of color and

19   minority and marginalized identities.

20             We also urge a commitment to a robust

21   public participation schedule and process. At

22   this moment, community-based organizations and

23   civic associations are stretched extremely thin.

24   These groups already face limited resources, even



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2    in the best of times, but even more so as

3    austerity budgets have forced many of our

4    organizations in response to the economic

5    downturn to downsize. And as these groups meeting

6    rising service demands and priorities in their

7    communities, we're finding less and less capacity

8    to be able to challenge decisions and weigh-in in

9    the public process so we really encourage, as

10   many of my colleagues earlier testified, a

11   process that invites the community in, in ways

12   that are easy for them.

13             And that may mean going beyond the

14   minimum number of geographic hearings to not only

15   meet those required geographic minimums but also

16   to bring together community and interest groups

17   that have been deeply involved to date. The

18   community surveys that happened during the unity

19   map process, which were described earlier come to

20   mind. Other organizations like CPC were part of

21   the Asian Community Coalition on Redistricting

22   and Democracy, the ACCORD Coalition and these

23   invited the public in, in ways where we could

24   block-by-block understand what the process would



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2    mean for us and put in meaningful engagement not

3    just from experts but from actual community

4    members themselves.

5              So we're thrilled to witnesses this new

6    process. We appreciate the opportunity to

7    testify, and we're humbled to do so amongst so

8    many great and amazing advocates. Thank you.

9              ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Thank you.

10   Next up, we have Michael Li from the Brennan

11   Center.

12             MR. MICHAEL LI, SENIOR COUNSEL, BRENNAN

13   CENTER FOR JUSTICE:            Thank you. Thank you to the

14   committees for this opportunity to testify. New

15   York will face a number of challenges when maps

16   are redrawn in 2021, both because of COVID and

17   because it will be using a new system to draw

18   maps for the first time, and I want to talk about

19   four challenges in particular.

20             The first is, as several other people

21   have mentioned, redistricting will be delayed

22   because of COVID. States normally get the census

23   data that they use to draw districts in February

24   or March after the census. That schedule was been



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2    pushed back because of census delays and it could

3    potentially could be pushed back further because

4    of the ongoing COVID pandemic elsewhere in the

5    country.

6               But right now what those delays mean is

7    that states won't get the data until mid-June to

8    July of 2021, which means that map-drawing

9    effectively will not to be able start until late

10   summer at the very earliest.

11              That will make it is virtually

12   impossible for the commission to submit

13   meaningful draft maps by the September 15th

14   deadline in the constitution, and it may be hard

15   for the commission to meet the January 15th

16   deadline for submitting final maps to the

17   legislature. And those dates may need to be

18   adjusted in some way.

19              And also because the New York process is

20   iterative, the legislature could reject the first

21   set of maps, if they are not approved, then the

22   commission will have to draw a second sets of

23   maps and they also -- it will have time to do

24   that but that will bump up very closely against



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2    the filing deadline for the 2022 primary and that

3    may need to be moved. In an outside world, it's

4    possible that the data of the primary might have

5    to be moved or you might want to consider that to

6    allow a robust redistricting process to take

7    place.

8                 And the reason that you particularly

9    want a robust redistricting process relates to

10   second challenge, which is that New York has to

11   unwind some fairly bad maps from last decade,

12   particularly in the legislature where on the

13   Senate side there's a significant bias in favor

14   of republicans on the map because, as some

15   speakers have already talked about, the under

16   population of districts upstate, the

17   overpopulation of districts in the New York City

18   area.

19                The map was legal but it pushed things

20   to the very edge of legality. And by some

21   measures, New York City could support up to two

22   additional senate seats, if you were using the

23   aggressiveness of those population variances. So

24   something similar happened on the Assembly side



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2    but it didn't really affect control of the body

3    as much.

4               The third challenge is significant

5    demographic change in New York. New York has

6    grown this past decade, but barely compared to

7    other states. The state, in fact, has lost over

8    620,000 white residents, while the black

9    population has grown a little bit. The state, the

10   fact that the state is growing at all is duty

11   increases in its Latino and its Asian

12   populations, mostly in the New York City and the

13   downstate regions of the state.

14              Right now the state is the projected to

15   lose one congressional district. It may, it would

16   lose more if it weren't for that Latino and Asian

17   growth. The state's electorate has also become

18   considerably more diverse. The white citizen

19   voting age population has decreased by about

20   50,000. Meanwhile, you have about 200,000 more

21   black voters, 290,000 Asian voters and a whopping

22   540,000 Latino voters. In other words, all of the

23   increase in eligible voters this last decade was

24   attributable to people of color, which gets to



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2    the fourth challenge.

3              Well, let me stop there. Because of

4    that, I think it's important to get public input,

5    and that's something that can happen right now.

6    When undoing these gerrymandders and figuring out

7    what the map should look like, it's really

8    important to get public input and public feedback

9    and that's something that the commission could

10   absolutely do now and start hearings around the

11   state in order to get that public input.

12             The fourth challenge which, I will

13   mention just briefly is to make sure that the

14   commission is robustly funded to be able to do

15   its work. I realize that's a special challenge in

16   this current fiscal landscape, but the process

17   will not work, especially for the first time out

18   for the commission if the commission doesn't have

19   the resources to have field hearings and to have

20   adequate staff and to be able to respond to the

21   community.

22             So with that, thank you again for this

23   opportunity to testify. We're happy to follow up

24   on any of these issues.



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2               ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                     Thanks very

3    much. Next up we have Jose Perez from Latino

4    Justice.

5               MR. JOSE PEREZ, DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL,

6    LATINO JUSTICE PRLDEF:              Good morning, everyone.

7    Thank you for this opportunity to testify.

8    Senator Gianaris, Hoylman, Assemblyman Zebrowski

9    and Rodriguez and other elected officials. On

10   behalf of Latino Justice PRLDEF, we were founded,

11   some of you may remember us more as the Puerto

12   Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund founded

13   back in 1972. Democracy, civic engagement, and

14   access for Latinos to be able to participate in

15   the electoral and democratic process have been

16   cornerstones of our work since our founding

17   almost 50 years ago.

18              I think you heard references in the

19   first panel to litigation involving the

20   application of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

21   to redistricting here in New York City. That was

22   lawsuits brought by a group of racial civil

23   rights groups known as the Unity Coalition.

24   PRLDEF back in that day was among the leaders in



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2    those two lawsuits Herron v. Koch and Gerene-

3    Valentin v. Koch, which dealt with the city's

4    attempt to adapt new municipal districts without

5    first getting preclearance from the Department of

6    Justice.

7               The courts enjoined the primary days

8    before the September primary back in 2011. We

9    have a long history of continuing to engage in

10   voting rights and redistricting litigation. After

11   the last round, after in 2011 we participated

12   again with our Unity partners at the Asian-

13   American Legal Defense Fund and the Medgar Evers

14   Center Law for Social Justice, enjoining and

15   intervening in the Favors lawsuit again where

16   LATFOR had not yet drawn congressional districts.

17              Our unity map, which was largely a joint

18   community-driven effort respecting communities of

19   color, communities of interest, not attempting to

20   disenfranchise, but working united to preserve

21   our communities and afford them their opportunity

22   to elect candidates of their own choosing was

23   largely adopted by the federal court balk in

24   2011-12.



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2              There was a second phase to that Favors

3    litigation or Favors 2 as it was called, which I

4    think Michael referred to, again, the attempt to

5    add a senate district, a 63rd senate district was

6    drawn notwithstanding that all the population

7    growth was downstate and in the Bronx and that's

8    where an additional senate district should have

9    been drawn. However, it was drawn up in the

10   Albany Capital District area. Although the court

11   ultimately sustained that district, again it was,

12   as I think Michael alluded to, on the cutting

13   edge of passing constitutional and legal muster.

14             Going from there, so in terms of going

15   forward, and you've heard already this

16   repeatedly, and I want to thank Jennifer on

17   behalf of the League of Women Voters for the

18   letter that they sent and made reference to this,

19   the fact that our elected leadership has failed

20   to appoint or nominate yet one Latino among the

21   first eight appointments, its supposed so-called

22   independent redistricting commission, is a

23   travesty. How could this happen in today's day

24   and age? It's inexcusable.



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2              I appreciate and applaud the efforts of

3    some of those that are this call, sitting on the

4    panel, Assemblyman Rodriguez, Sepulveda and

5    others who have joined with some of the other

6    panelists. You heard from Juan Rosa and the

7    NALEAO Educational Fund. You will hear from Eddie

8    Cuesta from Dominicanos USA. We have joined

9    together to express our outrage in the failure of

10   our elected leadership to recognized and include

11   Latinos in this political process. And that's

12   what it is. It's not independent. It's political.

13   Let's get real. Let's change the name as Susan

14   Lerner mentioned earlier.

15             We have joined with our partners in

16   sending letters. We've identified, we've done the

17   homework of looking for the proverbial needle in

18   the haystack, looking for those, are there

19   independent Latinos in New York State? Well, we

20   found at least five eminently qualified that

21   we've identified and provided to the leadership

22   and to the commission. And we urge members of

23   both houses, the leadership, to consider and do

24   everything in your power so that the existing



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2    eight members fairly evaluate, assess and vote to

3    support the appointment of a Latino to this

4    commission. Failure to have a Latino, and you

5    have two independent spots right now. They should

6    be permitted to testify, they should be included

7    in order that we have a voice in this process.

8              The other things I wanted to mention is

9    there are some changes, again that were touched

10   upon by the first panel, Susan Lerner, I know

11   Common Cause is supporting. One thing was not

12   mentioned in terms of changing some of this

13   outdated, old language in the constitution, there

14   is currently a term called excluding aliens still

15   in language in Article 3, Section 5.

16             As a Latino Civil Rights Legal Defense

17   Fund uniquely cognizant of the diversity of

18   immigrant statuses of our communities, we want to

19   ensure that all New Yorkers counted and included

20   during reapportionment and not limited to voting

21   age population. The Supreme Court included that

22   everyone counts. One person, one vote, as Justice

23   Ginsburg eloquently cited in the Evenwel case. So

24   we urge that that language excluding aliens which



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2    is more reflective of the administration and the

3    politics emanating from Washington, that that

4    should not be countenanced by a state as

5    inclusive and diverse as New York.

6              So again, I would urge transparency. I

7    would urge inclusion, respectful of communities

8    of color and communities of interest, and not

9    Withstanding the Shelby County striking down of

10   the Section 5 preclearing, the principles of the

11   Voting Rights Act Section 2 still apply and

12   communities of color and minority communities

13   rights must be respected. Otherwise,

14   organizations such as Latino Justice will

15   continue to be in business and back in the

16   courts. Thank you.

17             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Thank you

18   very much. And I want to thank the panel for your

19   testimony today and for your insights. We do have

20   an assembly member who wishes to ask a question.

21   Assembly member Harvey Epstein.

22             ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     Again, I want

23   to thank all panelists on really good questions.

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



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2    to push, to ensure that the Latino get

3    appropriate representation on the commission, and

4    you know, the things that you think we otherwise

5    should be doing to ensure the diversity of

6    representation across this state to ensure that

7    we include those voices that are being excluded?

8    Is it a letter to the governor? Is it something

9    you guys need us to do? Or do you feel you've

10   bean pushing on your own and you think that

11   you're going to be successful?

12             MR. PEREZ:           We, again, there have been

13   its sent by -- and not just Latino groups, again,

14   groups such as the League of Women Voters also

15   reached out and have identified this, Assemblyman

16   Epstein. What I think is again was alluded to in

17   the earlier panel, for in the future, inclusion

18   in the process, why weren't we invited to be part

19   of the discussions on these things. If this is

20   going to be an independent redistricting

21   commission, maybe we should revisit, you know,

22   this is not an independent redistricting

23   commission if the political leaders are

24   appointing the individuals.



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2              Are we going to be part of that

3    discussion? We can make suggestions. We did the

4    work and we've identified candidates, which whom

5    I understand are being evaluated and perhaps then

6    being considered, but given it's the existing

7    eight members that vote upon them, you as an

8    elected official on behalf of your constituents,

9    communicate with the existing commissioners. They

10   have to do that. Communicate this to Speaker

11   Heastie, technically the leader of your house,

12   that this is imperative that they consider and

13   answer, you know, identify suitable candidates.

14             We did homework. We spent hours and we

15   searched and we found at least five, so we made

16   it easy. We identified people. Lawyers, I'm a

17   lawyer, right, doctors, community leaders. It's

18   imperative that they be able to bring their life

19   experience.

20             The other part of it is language. I mean

21   everything is in English. Where is the bilingual?

22   We're going to be multi-cultural. Language

23   accessibility has to be recognized, notice of

24   these proceedings, notice of when their review of



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2    candidates being considered has to be

3    multicultural, culturally sensitive and language

4    accessible.

5              ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     So you're

6    saying that the materials that they're publishing

7    are not accessible in multiple languages?

8              MR. PEREZ:           Well, if they were, I mean,

9    this is going forward, again, with the initial

10   appointments, there were no public notices that

11   the speaker or the senate leaders were

12   considering who they were accounting. Were there

13   meetings? Were we -- we were not invited.

14             ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     Right.

15             MR. PEREZ:           If there were meetings for

16   consideration. So that's something. Were members

17   of the House, members of the Assembly or the

18   Senate included or asked to weigh in or to do

19   this? Probably, I think not. So again, if you

20   were not aware of that, then clearly you were not

21   apprized, or saying can you make suggestions it?

22   It should be an inclusive process. Folks, the

23   members of the Assembly and the Senate should be

24   able to make recommendations and you all,



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2    representing your constituents and hearing from

3    advocates and organizations such as ours can

4    share our insights or comments or make

5    suggestions and really make this a true

6    democratic participatory process.

7              ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     So you're

8    saying some kind of like public notice for, hey,

9    this is a commission, we want applicants that

10   express the diversity of New York and have a

11   deadline for people to apply, to submit and then

12   have a pool that they could go to.

13             MR. PEREZ:           Right. That would be more

14   akin to a true independent, citizen independent

15   commission, much as California and some other

16   states have adopted, where folks can apply

17   publicly. But if it's going to be in the existing

18   structure, again then our leaders I think need to

19   hear from their constituents and their members.

20             ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     Right. Well,

21   very helpful. Thank you for testifying and being

22   here today.

23             MR. PEREZ:           Good to see you again, my

24   friend.



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2              ASSEMBLY MEMBER EPSTEIN:                     You too.

3    Alright. Bye-bye.

4              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you. Next, we

5    have Senator Gustavo Rivera.

6              SENATOR RIVERA:              Thank you, senator. Let

7    me turn on my video here. It's not allowing me to

8    start the video but I'll I guess I'll speak until

9    it does. You all can hear me, correct?

10             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Yes.

11             SENATOR RIVERA:              Good. All right. So

12   this is actually to, there we go. This is to, I

13   guess the CPC, Latino Justice and Brennan Center,

14   I guess you can all chime in. You mentioned both

15   we're talking about Latino, Latinx, Latino

16   communities and AAIPI communities, but also some

17   of their undercounts is obviously a concern that

18   was shared by the first panel. And I certainly

19   share it. In the communities that I represent,

20   the undercounted is definitely, we're behind.

21             But can you say more how that may affect

22   the existing districts in the future and also, so

23   future ones that are drawn that retain kind of

24   core of prior districts? Can you talk a little



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2    bit about how that would break down. CPC maybe

3    first?

4                 MS. TORRES:           Sure, I can go first. Thank

5    you, Senator Rivera. So in our, testimony we

6    pulled some analysis that the Asian American

7    Federation had done, which was very helpful to

8    our understanding of where counts are to date.

9    And I mentioned some neighborhoods in Queens

10   where the count is significantly behind the

11   citywide self-response rate.

12                In that same area where we have a high

13   and dense population of South Asians, Indian

14   Americans and Indo Caribbean Americans is also a

15   place where some of those, the core parts of

16   those communities are actually split into four or

17   five assembly districts. And so when we think

18   about the potential for undercount, the existing

19   core of -- the core of existing districts and

20   understanding that some of the undercounted

21   communities are on the margins of those

22   districts, the undercount serves to further

23   marginalize them so they continue that fracturing

24   effect.



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2              And so I don't have the analysis of what

3    the full count of other communities is that

4    district is in front of me right now. But I think

5    our concern is that without a full public

6    participation process where one, for those of us

7    who are continuing to work on get out the count

8    efforts to make sure that the same organizations

9    remain at the table and those same community

10   groups remain at the table so that when we talk

11   about, line by line, where these communities live

12   that there's a full public record that reflects.

13             And also we need to understand that many

14   of these communities that are facing undercounts,

15   it's also because of a lot of historic

16   displacement that these communities have

17   experienced but there's also going to be

18   significant displacement as a fallout of the

19   COVID-19 pandemic.

20             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    Got you.

21   Anybody else want to chime in? Obviously, you've

22   covered it, you've covered it well, Ms. Torres.

23   Thank you. And thank you all for being part of

24   this process. Thank you, senator.



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2                SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, senator

3    Rivera. In the absence of a member of the

4    Assembly, we also have Senator Tom O'Mara.

5                SENATOR O'MARA:              Thank you, Chairman. I

6    just have a follow-up question for I think it was

7    Jose, who was speaking regarding candidates that

8    have been put forward for the two open commission

9    spots and who was evaluating those. I'm not aware

10   of any candidates that have been put forward by

11   any of the groups that are testifying here today.

12   But I guess I would ask if you know who those

13   individuals are that have been submitted and who

14   they've been submitted to.

15               MR. PEREZ:           Senator, Dominicanos USA,

16   NALEAO Educational Fund and Latino Justice

17   identified five. We issued a letter, I believe,

18   in early June, again, critiquing the failure to

19   have a Latino appointed to the commission. As

20   part of that, it's a public press release. A

21   letter was sent to both the Puerto Rican-Hispanic

22   Task Force and the legislative leadership in both

23   the Assembly and the Senate and the Governor as

24   well.



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2                And in part of that letter, we also

3    identified five candidates that we had vetted and

4    cleared. So when I say perhaps in terms of, I

5    don't want to get into semantics but we

6    identified or put together a short list that we

7    had already identified and cleared five

8    individuals who are independent, independent

9    registered voters, non-Republican, non-

10   Democratic, and identified these as potential

11   candidates for consideration. And it is my

12   understanding that the leadership has been, that

13   those names have been shared and are considering

14   them.

15               SENATOR O'MARA:              You had --

16               MR. PEREZ:           But that release, that

17   letter, the list, that is public, so you should

18   have. I'm happy to send it to you. It's

19   publicized by all the organizations that I

20   mentioned earlier.

21               SENATOR O'MARA:              Okay. Do you think it

22   would have been a good idea to perhaps have those

23   candidates maybe testify at this hearing today?

24               MR. PEREZ:           Possibly. Again, the



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2    candidates themselves, and when I say -- and just

3    to go back, when I say the leadership, it was

4    sent to both the majority the minority leadership

5    and we've had discussions with both the minority,

6    the Republican leadership, as well as the senate

7    and the Assembly Democratic leadership so it's

8    both houses. This is not a one side, given that

9    there's two final spots to be filled. Whether

10   these candidates, given, if they are not being

11   idea or doing that, would they share I think the

12   outrage that I expressed earlier that not a

13   Latino could do that, to convey that, if you need

14   repetition, then that would clearly be helpful.

15             SENATOR O'MARA:              Okay. Thank you very

16   much. I'm set here.

17             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, senator.

18             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      All right,

19   well, I want to thank the panel again for your

20   testimony today. In the absence of any other

21   senators or assembly members, Senator Gianaris,

22   I'll kick it over to you for the third panel.

23             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, assembly

24   member. And for our third and final panel of the



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2    day, we have Jeff Wice from New York Law School's

3    Census and Redistricting Institute, Eddie Cuesta,

4    from Dominicanos USA, Tom Speaker from Reinvent

5    Albany and Rachel Bloom from the Citizens Union.

6    We will begin with Jeff Wice.

7              MR. JEFF WICE, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK LAW

8    SCHOOL CENSUS & REDISTRICTING INSTITUTE:                         Okay. I

9    thought I was live on screen. Sorry. Thanks very

10   much for this opportunity. Let me get my screen

11   justice here adjusted here a bit. Well, it's a

12   pleasure to be addressing you this morning on

13   redistricting. Again my name is Jeff Wice. I am a

14   senior fellow and adjunct professor at New York

15   Law School, where I'm heading up a new institute

16   on census and redistricting. We created a

17   redistricting roundtable to engage the public,

18   veterans, experts, and new organizations with

19   everything redistricting, especially with

20   education, training and involving the public.

21             It's been my privilege in the past to

22   have worked for five assembly speakers and four

23   democratic senate leaders, with the last four as

24   a staff or counsel, and it's a pleasure to be



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2    providing information to you. I am not advocating

3    or presenting a particular point of view, but

4    want to suggest a few ideas in light of the COVID

5    caused delay in the census delivery and the state

6    constitution. I will submit a written statement,

7    but I'll submit the National [unintelligible]

8    [01:56:42] recently published redistricting red

9    book, which I was a coauthor and coeditor. That's

10   a [unintelligible] [01:56:51] and staff primer on

11   redistricting and will answer many of the legal

12   questions that came up earlier in this hearing.

13             And I'll also provide a copy of a

14   recently published primer on the New York State

15   redistricting process that New York Law School

16   published last month that walks people through

17   the current new constitutional scheme.

18             Since the pandemic hit and the Census

19   Bureau has had to delay its census-taking process

20   and the expected delay in providing redistricting

21   data to the states, I've also been working with

22   other states similarly situated including

23   California, New Jersey, Virginia, which have much

24   tighter time frames than New York.



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2                 I'm going to suggest that there are

3    three different options that the legislature can

4    consider. The first is to work with and urge the

5    commission to move up deadlines without a

6    constitutional amendment and to enact chapter

7    laws that will accommodate the schedule. A second

8    approach could be to develop basic constitutional

9    amendment to deal with some of the calendar

10   dates.

11                And then a third option would be a much

12   more comprehensive approach to amend the

13   constitution to change the 2022 dates involved,

14   make other reforms that, as other before me

15   mentioned could include creating a bipartisan

16   commission with a final authority and a neutral

17   high tiebreaker, similar to the New Jersey

18   scheme, second, creating a commission with final

19   authority and being fully independent of the

20   legislature, similar to California. Other changes

21   can include prioritizing the criteria used for

22   redistricting, changing the commission's rules on

23   voting, adding the prison reallocation law to the

24   constitution, changing the standard of



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2    traditional review to make, verify the burdens of

3    proof when challenging redistricting plans. And

4    there are numerous other changes that could be

5    made if the thought is to go beyond simply fixing

6    the dates.

7              In light of the delay, the current plan

8    will not provide the data to the state until

9    sometime in June or July 2021. Under the current

10   framework, this gives the commission only five

11   months to submit its first set of plans, leaving

12   the commission with only about 45 days to

13   conclude its work or as soon as practicable

14   thereafter, in the words of the constitution.

15             The commission can't expedite its work

16   after the date arrives next summer, still meet

17   deadlines in 2021, but make changes in the

18   political calendar. My colleague and friend Todd

19   Breitbart, a former state senate redistricting

20   staffer, and I have looked at the calendar and

21   would suggest that if the dates for the

22   commission and the legislature can be moved up a

23   bit, that a primary can still be held on June

24   28th with the first day to circulate petitions



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2    would be March 25th, the last date for filing

3    petitions on April 19th, leaving a 25-day

4    petition period, reducing the number of

5    signatures required and having a primary on June

6    28th.

7                The congressional primary in 2012 was in

8    the spring. This commission amendment was adopted

9    in 2012 originally and approved 2014 with full

10   knowledge that there was going to be a problem.

11   So I think I've worked out a schedule that could

12   accommodate this.

13               You can find a much more detailed

14   analysis of all the suggestions others and I have

15   made about constitutional amendments in a book

16   chapter called "New York's Broken Constitution"

17   from the 2016 SUNY press book, the title of our

18   chapter was "These Seats Cannot be Saved". But we

19   looked at the entire recent history of

20   redistricting in New York and ways to make

21   further changes.

22               Please don't hesitate to call me for

23   further assistance as you develop either chapter

24   amendments or revisions to the 2014 amendment and



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2    it's a pleasure seeing some of the old colleagues

3    and friends again. Thank you.

4              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Jeff. It's

5    great to have your experienced opinion on this

6    matter. Eddie Cuesta from Dominicanos USA.

7              MR. EDDIE CUESTA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,

8    DOMINICANOS USA:          Greetings. And thank you, Chair

9    Gianaris, Rodrigeuz, Hoylman, Zebrowski, and

10   fellow committee members for providing us with

11   the opportunity to testify on this important

12   issue. My name is Eddie Cuesta, executive

13   director of Dominicanos USA, a nonpartisan in a

14   nonpartisan organization committed to the civic,

15   social and economic integration of the Dominican

16   American into all facets of the American life.

17             DUSA advocates and strives to ensure to

18   every U.S. citizen is able to freely and easily

19   able to exercise their civic rights, realize

20   their full potential and capitalize on the

21   opportunities the U.S. has to offer. Our

22   contribution to making this vision a reality

23   begins with our direct and grass root work the in

24   Dominican American community. Domincanos USA is



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2    here today because the New York State

3    redistricting process is intimately tied to our

4    representative democracy, which is essential to

5    the progress of our growing important population.

6    We make up a significant portion of New York's

7    largest and diverse Latino population. According

8    to the 2017 estimate from the Census Bureau,

9    there are over 2 million Dominicans or people of

10   Dominican descent living in the United States.

11             In New York State and New York City, the

12   population estimates are 872,000 and 720,000

13   respectively. The 720,000 Dominicans in New York

14   City accounts for more than one of every nine

15   city residents, 12 percent, and they also account

16   for 29 percent of the Latino in the city. The

17   355,000 Dominicans in the Bronx account for

18   nearly one of every four, 24 percent can

19   [unintelligible] [02:02:52] of 43 percent of the

20   Latino borough residents, making the Bronx the

21   U.S. county with by far the largest Dominican

22   population.

23             Considering the magnitude of the

24   Dominican population in New York and of the



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2    contribution Latinos as a whole to our great

3    state, we are clearly dismayed to hear that not a

4    single Latino was pointed to New York State

5    during the [unintelligible] [02:03:11]

6    redistricting commission, as has been said in

7    this panel.

8              It is essential that this commission is

9    as diverse as practically possible as stated in

10   its legal guidelines because representation

11   without such an essential democracy process will

12   help produce political maps which provide Latinos

13   a fair opportunity to elect the candidates of

14   their choice, both for candidates that look like

15   them and candidates that share their experiences.

16             In an attempt to remedy this oversight

17   well join, as was mentioned in this panel, and

18   the previous panel, with our partners at the

19   NALEAO Educational Fund and Latino Justice

20   PRLDEF, at the request of the Puerto Rican and

21   Hispanic Task Force to find and recommend

22   eminently qualified Latinos, candidates to fill

23   the remaining two seats open on the commission.

24             After an intense two months of scouring



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2    the entire state, we found five wonderful

3    candidates and have shared with both minority and

4    majority leaders in both legislative houses, as

5    has been mentioned previously. This process was

6    not easy and we believe that the current legal

7    structure disproportionately limits the

8    appointment and participation of Latinos to this

9    commission.

10             Dominicanos USA believes that the

11   application and selection process for members of

12   the redistricting commission, as noted in the

13   body of law that form the IRC, ones we saw in the

14   commission will reflect the geography, racial,

15   ethics, gender and national diversity of the

16   political jurisdiction.

17             The current qualification makes it

18   nearly impossible for Dominicans to participate

19   directly in this process. While we firmly state

20   by the importance of appointing candidates that

21   have no conflict of interest, we do find they

22   should some exceptions to this rule. Thus we urge

23   the first eight commissioners to select qualified

24   Latinos for the remaining seats.



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2              Lastly, considering the current state of

3    our public health and the COVID-19 pandemic, it

4    is important that the commission make the 12

5    hearings it is mandated to hold accessible to all

6    communities. We hope that this can be done

7    virtually in order to mitigate the spread of the

8    COVID-19 virus if in-person hearings are not

9    possible in the future.

10             Historically, as you may know, the

11   redistricting process have been intentionally

12   utilized to suppress the electoral power of

13   communities of interest, like Dominicans. We have

14   an opportunity to help ensure fair redistricting

15   process by appointing more Latinos to the

16   commission and by making the process as

17   accessible as possible to all communities in New

18   York State.

19             We have been at the ground to make sure

20   that the Dominican communities involved in our

21   nation's democracy process and look forward to

22   doing the same for redistricting. Thank you again

23   for this opportunity to testify. We know you

24   share our goals of a fair redistricting process



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2    to allow all New Yorkers a meaningful opportunity

3    to participate as a result of maps that provide

4    underrepresented New Yorkers an opportunity to

5    elect the candidates their choice. We look

6    forward to working with you to achieve this

7    important goal. Thank you again.

8              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Eddie.

9    Next, we have Tom Speaker from Reinvent Albany.

10             MR. TOM SPEAKER, POLICY ANALYST,

11   REINVENT ALBANY:          Good morning. My name is Tom

12   Speaker and I'm a policy analyst for Reinvent

13   Albany. Reinvent Albany advocates for open and

14   accountable government in New York State. We

15   thank the Senate and Assembly for holdings this

16   hearing today on redistricting, the first hearing

17   on this topic for the 2022 cycle and for all the

18   hearings we'll be holdings over the coming week.

19             So today we call on the legislature to

20   focus their efforts on helping the redistricting

21   commission function properly, rather than making

22   major structural changes to the redistricting

23   process. While we recognize that the

24   redistricting process needs improvement, the



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2    earliest constitutional changes would take effect

3    after voter approval in November 2021, which we

4    believe to be too far along in the process of

5    drawing district lines.

6              The first passage of a constitutional

7    amendment would need to be done by the

8    legislature in the next couple weeks. While the

9    public discussion around redistricting has only

10   started in earnest with this hearing today major

11   changes to redistricting policy should only be

12   made after the public has had sufficient time to

13   weigh in. The constitutional amendment passed in

14   2014 is not perfect, but it was approved by the

15   voters and is the only feasible framework for

16   drawing lines for 2022, given the current time

17   limitations.

18             That said, we believe that statutory

19   changes could and should be made to the

20   redistricting commission's timeframes to address

21   the consolidated June primary date and delays in

22   census collection data related to COVID-19. These

23   ministerial changes can be made via statute and

24   would provide the commission guidance on how to



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2    proceed during the cycle while ensuring adequate

3    time for public hearings and review.

4              We also support the League of Women

5    Voters of New York State's request to ensure that

6    the commission is fully equipped with both

7    funding and staff and that the funding that was

8    made available is released as soon as possible.

9    There should also be a greater clarity around the

10   application of the open meetings law and the

11   freedom of information law to the commission.

12             Lastly, the commission must work to

13   appoint its final two non-affiliated

14   commissioners so that planning can finally begin.

15   It is important for public trust as the

16   commission begin its work soon and lay out an

17   open roadmap for how this redistricting cycle

18   will unfold.

19             So while discussion of changes is

20   warranted, we believe that these issues should be

21   considered when there is more time for thoughtful

22   public discussion and review. Changing

23   redistricting midstream would be disruptive and

24   potentially damage public confidence in the



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2    process. Consideration of larger structural

3    changes should only be made with more time for

4    public input. That's all we have, so thank you

5    for the opportunity to speak today.

6              SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Tom. And

7    last but certainly not least, Rachel Bloom from

8    Citizens Union.

9              MS. RACHEL BLOOM, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC

10   POLICY, CITIZENS UNION:              Hello. Thank you for

11   having me. I know that you've heard a lot of

12   people already today, and I'm going to try and

13   not be as repetitive. So I am representing

14   Citizens Union, and we are very excited to be

15   here talking about, for the first time in this

16   cycle, about redistricting with you, but I'm sure

17   there are many more to come. Particularly right

18   now with so much that's going on, we are thankful

19   for you for having this hearing and shining a

20   light on it.

21             So eight years ago, when lawmakers

22   placed on the ballot the biggest reform to

23   redistricting in decades, received the decisive

24   support of New Yorkers, and it created a more



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2    fair and open redistricting process. Having said

3    all of that, the amendment also called for

4    extensive public hearings and the release of maps

5    and other data which would allow the members of

6    the public to draw their own maps, thus fostering

7    public participation. As we head into this

8    process for the first time, it's exciting but

9    there are also challenges we face, and I'm going

10   to try and run through these.

11             First, as we obviously all know, it's a

12   new and yet untested process. We have to

13   establish the commission, including staffing. We

14   are excited that the legislature allocated

15   $750,000 for the budget, and urge them to get

16   going with the creation and staffing and

17   appointing an executive director.

18             We call on the commissioners to reach an

19   agreement on their picks as soon as possible, and

20   as they consider filling the two remaining

21   vacancies, we note that according to the

22   constitution, the commission should reflect the

23   diversity of the residents of the state. And with

24   that, we amplify those who spoke before us,



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2    noting that there's only one woman on the

3    commission and no Latinx commissioners, which

4    does not as at the moment seem reflective of New

5    York State.

6              Next, I'm actually going to skip ahead

7    to something and go back to this if I have time.

8    Our third, what was originally our most important

9    point is that we oppose any process which seeks

10   to amend the state constitution to address the

11   2022 redistricting cycle. The 2014 revision was a

12   result of a long process of deliberation, public

13   input and media coverage.

14             Changing the constitution without public

15   notice during a last minute session would be

16   counter to the objective of an open and fair

17   redistricting process, especially since timeline

18   problems we believe can be solved through

19   legislative action and do not need to happen

20   merely through constitutional amendment. The

21   current redistricting process is not perfect.

22   There are things that we had hoped the 2014

23   amendment would have included, more improvements

24   to the process. But we very much supported the



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2    final version as an important opportunity to fix

3    a rigged system.

4              We believe the public, which strongly

5    supported the 2014 amendment, should be given the

6    chance to see those amendments implemented for

7    the first time. A thoughtful debate on the merits

8    and drawbacks of the process should follow ahead

9    of next redistricting process.

10             Changes should not be made during a

11   redistricting process in the current highly

12   rushed timeline. We are especially concerned by

13   any attempts to eliminate the bipartisan nature

14   of the current redistricting process, either by

15   changing the special voting rules on the

16   commission or the needed majority in legislature

17   in case of one-party control. That would

18   contradict the intent of 2014 amendment.

19             We have advocated for fair redistricting

20   for many decades, during which time we have

21   watched as one party or the other sought to

22   reduce by gerrymander the voting rights of

23   supporters of the opposing party. The goal of

24   fair redistricting for every person's vote to



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2    have equal value, regardless of party

3    affiliation. We are concerned that any process

4    which seeks to amend the constitution at this

5    moment would create confusion, limit public input

6    and will not influence the timeline.

7              The earliest that an amendment can take

8    affect is January 1, 2022, well past the when

9    commission is set to require its preliminary plan

10   for public comment and on the same day when it is

11   supposed to present its first plan to the

12   legislature. The commission must be able to

13   operate with full knowledge of what criteria it

14   needs to follow.

15             If amendments are placed on ballot, the

16   commission will not know until November which

17   constitutional provisions would be in effect. If

18   there is a change in January, the commission

19   would have to operate would have to operate with

20   different criteria and possibly produce new maps.

21             The tight timing would greatly limit, if

22   not exclude public input on revised plans. And if

23   there are pending amendments, we doubt members of

24   the public would be able to provide meaningful



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2    input to the process. This may also compound the

3    risk of lawsuits, both during and after the

4    process. We fear this will delay the process

5    rather than expedite it.

6              And with that I will be submitting my

7    written testimony which has more in it, which

8    cannot be contained in these five minutes. And I

9    just end it by urging the legislature to keep the

10   redistricting process set forth in the 2014

11   amendment intact for the upcoming redistricting

12   cycle. Thank you.

13             SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you. And before

14   I go to questions, let me just point out the

15   irony for those who say that the current process

16   was subject to great public input and no vote.

17   Anything that would happen now would also be

18   subject to the exact same process. It would be at

19   least a year plus before the public would get to

20   opine on it and it would be the same vote that

21   would be known in November of '21, even if it

22   would take effect in January, so the commission

23   would have full knowledge for two months about

24   what the changes would be. With that Senator



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2    Gustavo Rivera is first on this.

3              SENATOR RIVERA:              Thank you, sir. All

4    right, thank you all for being here. Jeff, it is

5    good to see you and I've worked with this

6    gentleman before, and obviously good to see the

7    rest of the panelists, Eddie, good to you as

8    well. But Jeff, I wanted for you to -- you took

9    some time during your testimony to talk about the

10   timeline that, because obviously we are under

11   constraints as far as what the timeline would be,

12   and I want to go a little bit deeper into that.

13   Because obviously our choices are limited because

14   of when the primary is set and what the amendment

15   says. I voted against it. That's neither here nor

16   there. It is reality. So tell us a little bit

17   more about the timeline that you think could

18   potentially work, as far as how it would

19   breakdown.

20             MR. WICE:          That's a great question.

21   Without going to the constitutional amendment

22   issue, I think the simplest way of approaching

23   things is to first persuade the commission, once

24   it's up and running, to work as expeditiously as



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2    possible, to have everything it can possibly do

3    ready to go at the time the state receives the

4    census data, where if Congress approves, will be

5    mow later than July 30th of 2021 and possibly or

6    probably earlier in July, if not late June. The

7    Census Bureau is still working out that schedule.

8              Having said that, if the data comes, you

9    know, as the late case scenario, on July 30th,

10   the commission needs to upload and analyze the

11   data, it needs to work out the kinks. It takes a

12   few weeks to do that. To look at the mal-

13   apportionment of current districts and the new

14   populations, determine where districts are over

15   or under the ideal population size. Then it's,

16   the commission is required to hold a series of 12

17   hearings throughout the state. I looked back at

18   recent schedules --

19             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    Sorry to

20   interrupt. So that 12 hearings, that is a

21   requirement that exists in law or in the --

22             MR. WICE:          In the constitution. The

23   actual cities and counties are listed in the

24   constitution and it's similar to the hearings



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2    that were held ten years ago and 20 years ago,

3    when each series of hearings went for about two

4    and a half weeks. Although, to be more expedited

5    in 2021, I calendared out if hearings can start

6    in September, late September, that you can hold

7    12 hearings and you can do Manhattan, Bronx,

8    Staten Island five days in a row, you can do

9    every other day or Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo,

10   Albany in four days straight. That's how it's

11   been done in the past.

12             So you can work with a month and get,

13   develop public input, develop plans. And drawing

14   plans is not that difficult, given the software

15   that's out there. It's just a matter of applying

16   the public input and weighing, I think, the

17   tremendous amount of greater public involvement

18   that we'll see in 2021. But to develop the first

19   iteration draft plan at some point by November,

20   December of next year, and then send the plan to

21   the legislature if the commission can agree on a

22   plan, and even have a second plan. Let's say if

23   the first plan can be done in November and if the

24   legislature can meet, either adopt and it send it



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2    to the governor or if it's rejected by either the

3    legislature or the governor, then go back in

4    December and try it again. But at some point to

5    have a plan in place, signed by the governor,

6    that would allow -- this would be for really, I

7    guess February final enactment, so that then

8    boards of elections can redraw the election

9    districts to comport with the new assembly

10   districts, and then begin a primary process for

11   June 28th primary date beginning on March 25th.

12             You need at least about a month for the

13   boards of elections to administer the process. I

14   went back and looked at the 1982 process, when

15   both petitions and dates were collapsed. I look

16   back at the 2020 schedule. So it's fast-tracked,

17   but as many of the speakers talked about, the

18   more that's done at the frontend to gain input,

19   to reach out to people, to get the sense of what

20   various communities are looking at, this could be

21   done rather quickly.

22             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    I want to make

23   sure, we only have 20 seconds so I wanted to just

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



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2    that on the record, since it is clear that we're

3    going to have a very compressed timeline and we

4    want to make sure that we move it expeditiously,

5    so that we can do all these things, that it is

6    possible to do it. It is tight, but it is

7    possible to do. So in your expert opinion that is

8    the case?

9                 MR. WICE:          And I don't think the

10   constitution could be amended to impact the 2021

11   dates since any amendment couldn't go into effect

12   until January 1, 2022.

13                ASSEMBLY MEMBER RIVERA:                    Okay. Thank

14   you, Jeff.

15                MR. WICE:          You're welcome.

16                SENATOR GIANARIS:                Okay. Member

17   Zebrowski, do you have any members of the

18   assembly?

19                ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Not at this

20   point.

21                SENATOR GIANARIS:                Okay. We have senator

22   Tom O'Mara.

23                SENATOR O'MARA:              Thank you, Chairman.

24   That was Mr. Wice that was just answering



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2    questions at the end there, correct?

3               MR. WICE:          That's correct.

4               SENATOR O'MARA:              Can you, for the

5    public's benefit, you mentioned the redistricting

6    software and capabilities that are out there

7    today and that it can be done quickly. Can you

8    just generally explain to myself and to the

9    public just exactly how this software works and

10   how quickly these lines can actually be drawn

11   now.

12              MR. WICE:          Well, sure. There are three

13   major commercial vendors that have developed

14   redistricting software, and when I say software,

15   you get the census data from the Census Bureau.

16   It's called the PL94171 file. It basically

17   provides all of the racial and age data for every

18   election district in the state. You upload that

19   data into the software. And the software enables

20   to you look at the current districts to see all

21   of the racial and ethnic numbers that comport

22   with each district, each election district,

23   senate district or assembly district, and then

24   allows you, using geographic information



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2    assistance, GIS science, to move populations

3    around so that you're changing district

4    populations, and as you do that, you get to see

5    the racial, ethnic and age differences as you

6    change them, so that you draw districts that

7    comport with one person, one vote, that all

8    districts be equal in size roughly, the Voting

9    Rights Act, so that you know what the racial

10   composition of districts look like. You also get

11   a sense to see the other kinds of factors that

12   you can add to the software.

13             An experienced line drawer, of which

14   there are very few, can draw a map in a matter of

15   days. It's just a matter of how much advanced

16   work has gone into the process, how much politics

17   and policy making goes into what the line drawer

18   is being told to weigh. But it's not a process

19   that takes a month to draw a map, a relatively

20   short period of time.

21             But again, it depends on the

22   circumstances of what is going on then, what

23   needs to be done, whether there are policy or

24   political differences that need to be worked out.



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2    But I am talking about doing that on a fast

3    track.

4                 SENATOR O'MARA:              Right. Now, you didn't

5    mention the criteria or the data point of party

6    affiliation. Does that not go into that system?

7                 MR. WICE:          You look at party affiliation

8    when you do racial voting analysis to determine

9    whether you need to comport with the Voting

10   Rights Act to maintain or draw districts that are

11   required based on racially polarized voting

12   patterns. So you need to look ac back at ten

13   years of primaries and general elections, so the

14   partisan data there does play in. It's not

15   prohibited to use partisan data. It's not

16   prohibited to use any kind of data. That's up to

17   the policy making body as to what data it wants

18   to consider.

19                However, all data that goes into the

20   redistricting machinery should be made public and

21   divulged so that the public knows what factors

22   went into the line drawing. If you're hiding some

23   kind of a data, then you're making some kind of a

24   mistake.



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2              SENATOR O'MARA:              Thank you. At the first

3    panel I asked a question about the money not

4    being released that's been appropriated for this.

5    Would you agree that the sooner that money gets

6    released to set up the commission and that staff

7    and executive directors get hired, that these

8    final two commissioners get chosen, and that they

9    begin their work is imperative?

10             MR. WICE:          It's imperative from an

11   objective point of view that things get moving

12   along, because we say that the longer you take to

13   wait, the harder it is to catch up. But again I

14   just want to reiterate that I'm not making

15   recommendations to the legislature. I'm just

16   giving you examples based on my experience that

17   early planning leads to a better result.

18             SENATOR O'MARA:              Okay. Now, that

19   $750,000 for this commission was appropriated in

20   this year's budget that was passed in the first

21   week of April. That money's been appropriated,

22   and it's up to the majorities of each house of

23   the legislature to get that money released. That

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



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2    on this, we might potentially need more resources

3    for the need to hire more staff to do more work

4    in less time?

5              MR. WICE:          That's hard to say because

6    the money that was appropriated goes through

7    April 1st of next year. There needs to be an

8    entirely new appropriation for the fiscal year

9    beginning 2021-22. The unknown factor that none

10   of us anticipated at all prior to mid-March, was

11   the possible need to work remotely. We have no

12   idea what the future holds and whether we'll be

13   back at our offices next year. That would add up

14   costs in terms of more hearings like this. Then

15   again, it can save costs by not having to travel

16   to travel 12 cities, but that's a factor to be

17   thinking about. But it might also cost that each

18   staff person, each legislator have his or her own

19   commuter and software and each software license

20   can cost about $1,000 each. So there are factors

21   that hadn't been planned for. We don't know yet.

22             SENATOR O'MARA:              Well, right now the

23   commission isn't staffed, doesn't have resources,

24   so they can't even make a choice of which



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2    software to purchase to use. And I would just

3    note that I think it's imperative that this money

4    get released and the commission get on with its

5    work. But I thank you for testifying here today,

6    Mr. Wice and the rest of the panelists here.

7    Thank you very much, Chairman.

8                SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Senator

9    O'Mara. Let me point out to you that I believe

10   the trigger for the hirings and the rest of the

11   work the commission needs to do is the

12   establishment of the commission. And until the

13   final two members are selected, I'm not sure that

14   that can proceed regardless, but do I share your

15   view that the commission needs to start moving

16   expeditiously, given the tight time frame we all

17   have.

18               I believe that wraps up the hearing. Let

19   me thank all our panelists, all my colleagues, my

20   co-chairs, Assembly Member Zebrowski, Assembly

21   Member Rodriguez, Senator Hoylman. This is

22   certainly something we're going to be talking a

23   lot more about as the weeks and months unfold and

24   we'll have the opportunity for even more input.



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2    With that, I would like to ask my Senate Co-Chair

3    Senator Hoylman to give some closing remarks and

4    then we'll pass it over to Assembly Member

5    Zebrowski.

6              SENATOR HOYLMAN:               Thank you, Senator

7    Gianaris. This is an unprecedented time for us,

8    but it's also unprecedented in that the Senate

9    has never actually had hearings leading up to a

10   redistricting in this manner previous. So I'm

11   very proud of our participation today, Senator

12   Gianaris and looking forward to putting deed

13   behind the words of so many of our panelists

14   today who gave us an expert insight into one of

15   the most fundamental issues involving our

16   democracy, whether every person's vote counts

17   equally. Thank you very much, Senator Gianaris.

18             ASSEMBLY MEMBER ZEBROWSKI:                      Thank you,

19   Senator Gianaris and Senator Hoylman. I'd like to

20   give my co-chair for this hearing, Assembly

21   Member Robert Rodriguez, who chairs the task

22   force on demographic research and

23   reapportionment, an opportunity for a statement.

24             ASSEMBLY MEMBER RODRIGUEZ:                      Thank you,



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2    Assembly Member Zebrowski and thank you to my

3    senate colleagues for the opportunity to have

4    this very important discussion about

5    redistricting and the process. And certainly the

6    comments that were made about diversity are

7    important I think both to the Senate majority as

8    well as the Assembly majority and certainly

9    something that we are committed to enacting

10   throughout this process. And endeavor to meet and

11   respond to the comments that were made through

12   actions and hopefully to the final appointments.

13             But more importantly, we would be remiss

14   if we didn't look at the inputs to the process

15   that we are evaluating now. The census and our

16   ability to respond and get good data will inform

17   our ability to make good decisions with respect

18   to redistricting that actually reflect one

19   person, one vote.

20             And as we talk about the efforts around

21   census, we have to recognize that we are still

22   below the national average in terms of response,

23   and still have appropriations outstanding to help

24   us to achieve those numbers. So I think it's



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2    important that we recognize there's $30 million

3    that needs to get utilized to ensure that the

4    census numbers are meaningful. And I think it's

5    important that that information come into play so

6    that we are able to have a successful outcome

7    that we all hope for in this process. Thank you.

8                SENATOR GIANARIS:                Thank you, Assembly

9    Member Rodriguez, and that concludes this joint

10   public hearing. I want to thank everybody that

11   participated, all of my colleagues, everyone that

12   testified and all those out there that are

13   listening and engaging in this process. I also

14   want to thank both the Senate and Assembly staff

15   who worked very hard on put this on and I hope

16   everyone has a wonderful day. Thank you.

17               (The public hearing concluded at 12:30

18   p.m.)

19

20

21

22

23

24



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                 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




 Date: July 28, 2020




GENEVAWORLDWIDE, INC

256 West 38th Street - 10th Floor

New York, NYX 10018




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