A government watchdog group is challenging the wording of a New York ballot question on redistricting, saying it is deceptive and should be replaced with more neutral language. A lawsuit announced Tuesday by Common Cause-New York seeks to reword the referendum, which critics say is misleading and could confuse voters into thinking they’re voting for an independent redistricting commission. The question on the November ballot asks voters to authorize a new commission to handle redistricting beginning in 2022. That’s the next time the state’s political districts will be redrawn to account for population changes.
The referendum says the commission will be independent, even though top lawmakers would pick eight of its 10 members. The Legislature also would have the power to reject any redistricting proposal from the commission and could substitute its own plan in its place.
“This is a commission that is independent in name only,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause-New York and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Supreme Court in Albany.