The state board of elections approved the language for a ballot amendment that would change the way redistricting is done in New York. But not everyone is happy with the wording or the amendment. The November ballot amendment would permit the Senate and the Assembly to appoint members to what the amendment describes as an “independent” commission to redraw legislative district lines every ten years, as required by the census. The state Board of Elections approved the language for the proposal at their August meeting. Board commissioner Andy Spano says he’s satisfied with the final wording. “We all talked about it,” Spano said. “It made a lot of sense because it defined what was the initial intent of the legislature and the governor.”
The legislature currently controls redistricting directly, and traditionally, the majority parties in each house of the legislature have mutually agreed to draw the new districts to suit the party in power. Critics say that’s led to all sorts of oddly misshapen districts that have been gerrymandered to help an incumbent lawmaker win re-election or keep the seat in the hands of one of the main political parties.
In 2012, lawmakers once again drew districts to favor the majority parties in each house, but agreed to pass a constitutional amendment to change the process for 2022.
But critics of the amendment say it would not really change anything. Susan Lerner with Common Cause says the amendment is the opposite of reform because it locks in the legislature’s control of the process for decades to come.