For Immediate Release:
Contact: Susan Lerner
December 19, 2011
Common Cause NY Launches Redistricting Maps on Newsday.com
Unique, interactive application allows New Yorkers to view reform maps and draw their own
Common Cause NY, an outspoken leader on the need for non-partisan redistricting, has designed a set of proposed Congressional and State maps drawn according to good government principles which will be available for New Yorkers to view and adjust on the UMapNY application on Newsday's website, Newsday.com. UMapNY is a unique, interactive web-based application that serves as a resource for users to learn about redistricting and engage in the process for the very first time. The Common Cause reform maps, which are included in UMapNY, are drawn to reflect the reality of how New Yorkers live and associate, rather than the gerrymandering which has come to symbolize the politicized redistricting process. The maps will be available at Newsday.com/UMapNY beginning December 19, 2011.
"New Yorkers deserve a non-partisan alternative to the legislative gerrymandered map which has perverted the democratic process of redistricting. UMapNY is a user friendly feature which will provide a jumping off point for people to design their own electoral maps, and thus empower the electorate to articulate a precise vision. Common Cause NY recognizes that there is no one perfect map, which is why we encourage New Yorkers to improve upon the maps we've drawn," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY.
On Newsday.com, users will have the option of starting with a blank map, the current electoral map or reform maps generated by Common Cause NY. Users will be able to draw their own maps according to the rules of redistricting, with census numbers and figures being recalculated in real time as they make adjustments. Upon completion, users will have the ability to share the maps they created with others, as well as send them to elected officials.
The Common Cause reform maps are drawn according to the following criteria:
- Respect one-person, one-vote by drawing state legislative districts with a population deviation of no more than +/- 3% from the ideal value, with a mean deviation for the whole plan within 1%.
- Compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act
- Respect communities of interest by drawing districts that reflect the social, cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic interests common to the population of the area. A community of interest is a local population with common social and economic interests that would benefit from the unified political representation provided by inclusion within a single political district.
- Traditional redistricting factors, like contiguity, compactness and respect for county, city, town, village, and school district lines whenever possible.
- Following an "incumbent blind" process and one that does not seek to advantage any particular political party in drawing the lines
- Re-allocating incarcerated persons back to their districts of last residence
In producing reform maps, Common Cause NY is responding to the current redistricting process which is characterized by partisanship and political self interest, with maps drawn behind closed doors. The Legislative Task Force on Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) is a bipartisan commission of legislators, and legislative staffers, responsible for redrawing electoral lines every ten years to reflect changes in the census. However, there has been increased debate about the democratic validity of the process, since legislators routinely draw lines to reflect their own needs, rather than the needs of real New Yorkers. Common Cause NY has attended many LATFOR hearings, with running analysis on its blog: http://www.citizenredistrictny.org/blog/.
Common Cause is a leader in redistricting reform around the nation. Common Cause California wrote and helped to pass the Voters First Initiative in California in 2008 which set up the first Citizens' Redistricting Commission in the U.S. which is currently in the process of drawing new political boundaries transparently and with public input. Common Cause Minnesota helped pass a referendum in Minneapolis that removes political parties from the redistricting process by having a judge appoint members of the redistricting commission. Common Cause strongly supported and helped pass the Fair Districts Florida initiatives in 2010 that set new rules for redrawing legislative and congressional lines which prohibit drawing districts to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.
Office: Common Cause New York
Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.