Archive for January 13th, 2012
Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, D-Brooklyn, asked from the start of the New York State Legislature’s Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment public hearings in July how many Senate districts would be created. He got no answer, and many good-government groups — including Common Cause, which submitted its own complete set of district lines — assumed the Senate would remain at 62 members.
Claiming that the Asian vote is too diluted across many districts, the groups are hoping to splice together sections of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights in a new district that would have a majority population of Chinese immigrants and their descendants.
For local governments, the decennial redrawing of district lines must meet the same national constitutional and statutory standards as the state’s, and the process awakens the same core problem that makes redistricting a massive and recurring issue in Albany. Elected officials put their personal or partisan interests ahead of fairness, competitiveness and accountability to the electorate — that is, ahead of the public interest.
How can you make sure your voice is heard? That was one of the topics of a gathering Thursday night at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society led in part by the non-partisan group “Common Cause New York.”
“Unfortunately in the past, the legislature has put its own self-interest first and drawn political district lines that lets legislatures choose their voters instead of voters choosing their legislators,” said Common Cause New York executive director Susan Lerner.
This time around New Yorkers need to let GOP lawmakers know that their ploy for power is as transparent as plastic wrap. Call them and tell them so.
According to Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Forest Hills has been one of the big battlegrounds in that war of words so far.
Inmates have traditionally been included in county population totals when political districts are determined. But state Senate and Republican leaders reached a deal in December to count 46,043 prisoners in their home neighborhoods instead.
Most local political districts will lose up to several thousand people in the process when redistricting occurs. The exact amount will depend on the inmates’ hometowns.
Gerrymandering manifests itself in three forms, all designed for partisan advantage: “excess vote,” where the power of your opponent is put into a few districts, so as to dilute their overall power; “wasted vote,” where your opponents’ strongholds are spread over many districts to dilute their advantage in any one district; and “stacked vote,” where bizarrely configured boundaries are set to link favorable voters. We should take a moment to understand from whence it came.
Currently, Democratic enrolled voters in New York have a 2-to-1 advantage over Republican ones. By reducing the number of eligible voters in each Senate district, the Republican majority hopes to maintain their majority in the Senate, which they have controlled for over 40 years by this political gerrymandering. The additional Republican Senate seats would protect Republican districts in rural and Northern New York constituencies.