New York
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by hybrid commission system
State BoundariesDrawn by hybrid commission system
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Severe

Congressional

Alert:
Severe

Process

Hybrid Commission System

Beginning in 2021, New York's state legislative and congressional districts will be drawn by a ten-member commission, as created by the New York Redistricting Commission Amendment in 2014. The four legislative leaders will each select two commissioners, and these eight members will then select the final two citizen-commissioners. The Commission will submit proposed plans to the state Legislature for an up-or-down vote. Only after the Commission rejects two proposed maps will the Legislature be permitted to make amendments to the Commission's proposals.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, New York’s state constitution (Art. III § 3, 4) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, preserve political subdivisions, preserve communities of interest, preserve the cores of prior districts, and be drawn to promote competitiveness. Intentionally favoring or disfavoring an incumbent, party, or candidate for office is prohibited.

In 2010, New York passed legislation ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting.

Public Input

Per the state constitution (Art. III § 3(6)), the Commission must hold at least twelve public hearings in specific cities and counties throughout the state. In addition, it must make all draft redistricting plans and data easily available so as to allow citizens to “develop alternative redistricting plans for presentation to the commission at the public hearings.”

2011 Cycle

New York’s redistricting process in the 2011 cycle was very contentious. Members of Congress hired lobbyists to protect their interests in redistricting, mayors challenged census population counts, and citizen activists clashed with legislators over redistricting reform. In the end, a court-appointed special master drew the final congressional districts. This cycle, the new process involving a politician commission will hopefully prevent these issues from reoccurring.

Issues

Pitfalls

The new redistricting commission has faced a number of challenges. During the Legislature's first joint public hearing on redistricting, concerns were raised about the gender and ethnic diversity of the Commission (the first eight appointees include one woman and no Latinx), transparency and accountability in the process, and the timing of redistricting given the Census delays. Following this hearing, a proposal to amend the redistricting process gained traction to decrease Republican participation in the process. The Commission has also faced significant struggles with getting adequate funding.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, New York lost one congressional seat.

Actions

Defend the new system, which moves in the right direction from full legislative control to a politician commission, while supporting further reforms.

  • Write to your local news organization in support of the new commission.
  • Support state legislative candidates who will protect the new Commission while pushing for further reform. The entire New York Legislature will be up for re-election in 2020.
  • Advocate for a genuinely fair constitutional amendment that creates an independent redistricting commission. Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • Obtain New York redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the hybrid commission starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

Brennan Center for Justice

Common Cause New York

New York Civil Liberties Union

New York Law School Census and Redistricting Institute

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia