For Immediate Release Common Cause Presents Updated Analysis of LATFOR Maps vs. Reform Maps

Written by 212-691-6421 on January 30, 2012


For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

January 30, 2012

212-691-6421

Common Cause Presents Updated Analysis of LATFOR Maps vs. Reform Maps

Slideshow presentation overlays current, proposed, and reform maps. Lerner says it's "absurd" LATFOR cannot reach a more fair result

Immediately prior to testifying at LATFOR's first redistricting hearing since the release of the proposed maps, Common Cause NY Executive Director, Susan Lerner, presented an updated analysis* of LATFOR's redistricting maps compared to the Common Cause Reform Maps. Measured against three criteria, LATFOR's maps egregiously disadvantage minority communities, abuse the federally mandated principle of 'one person one vote', and violate the constitutional provision to avoid dividing counties whenever possible.

The Common Cause Reform Maps were drawn incumbent blind which produced equally as many senate districts with two incumbents as without any (10), and nearly identical numbers on the Assembly side (28 vs. 26).

Common Cause's maps have been hailed as a fair alternative by the New York Times, the Daily News, Newsday, the Syracuse Post Standard, and others.

"Common Cause NY has provided the Governor, LATFOR, and the public with an alternative map of what New York's electoral landscape could look like. The Common Cause Reform Maps represent a non-partisan vision, which comply with state and federal mandates, to produce a fair and legal result. It is absurd to think that LATFOR's proposal cannot be revised to better represent the demographic reality of New York State, and we've got the maps to prove it," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY.

The updated analysis revealed widespread gerrymandering across the state.

Examples

On Long Island, there has been little to no change to the proposed senate map from the current one, despite a 40% increase in the Latino and African American population and a 4.6% decline in the white population since the last census. The predominantly Latino and African American communities of Babylon/Islip in Suffolk, and Hempstead in Nassau, remain cracked between three and four senate districts respectively. Common Cause's plan keeps these communities of interest whole by placing them in single senate districts.

The Upper West Side of Manhattan represents an egregious gerrymander, cracking a single community of interest into four senate districts, up from the current three. The Common Cause Reform Maps would keep the neighborhood contained within a single district.

Similarly, in the Bronx, the proposed official plan amplifies the existing lack of compactness, and denies the dominant Latino community a potential fifth district.

Upstate in Ulster County, the proposed maps divide a relatively small area between four senate districts, up from the current two. This represents a larger trend in which LATFOR's proposed maps violate the state constitutional provision to keep counties whole whenever possible by crossing eighteen upstate county lines. In contrast, Common Cause's reform maps cross only nine.

Rochester represents the ultimate partisan gerrymander on both the Senate and Assembly side with the city, a contained community of interest, butchered into objectionable puzzle pieces. The City of Rochester is divided into three senate districts, but can fit into a single on to create a minority influence seat, as reflected in the Common Cause Reform Map. Similarly, the Assembly plan gerrymanders the outlying suburbs to amplify Democratic representation.

The situation is almost identical in Syracuse, where it's possible to fit the entire city into one Assembly District, instead of splitting it into two.

Numerical Analysis

Minority Communities: LATFOR vs. Common Cause Reform Plan

Compared to Common Cause's reform alternative, LATFOR's claim that the proposed maps advantage minority communities doesn't stack up to the potential reality.

State Senate

Non-Hispanic Black:LATFOR: 7 majority, 6 influence

Common Cause Reform: 7 majority, 8 influence

Hispanic: LATFOR: 6 majority, 8 influence

Common Cause Reform: 6 majority, 1 near-majority (47.4%), 10 influence

Non-Hispanic Asian:LATFOR: 1 majority, 3 influence

Common Cause Reform: 1 majority, 5 influence

State Assembly

Non-Hispanic Black: LATFOR: 15 majority, 17 influence

Common Cause Reform: 17 majority, 17 influence

Hispanic: LATFOR: 14 majority, 21 influence

Common Cause Reform: 16 majority, 18 influence

Non-Hispanic Asian: LATFOR: 3 majority, 8 influence

Common Cause Reform: 3 majority, 10 influence

Similarly, LATFOR's proposal creates large disparities in population between districts, upsetting the proportionality of the state.

Population Deviation: LATFOR vs. Common Cause Reform Maps

State Senate

In LATFOR's maps, the population deviations range from -4.97% to + 3.83%, with an absolute mean deviation of 3.67%. The biggest difference in district size is 27,035 people.

. There are 26 upstate districts, with a mean deviation of -4.5%

. There are 28 NYC/Westchester districts, with a mean deviation of + 3.3%

In the Common Cause Reform Maps, the population deviation ranges from -2.9% to +2.59%, with a mean deviation of 1.4%. The biggest difference in district size is 16,864 people.

. 25 upstate districts, with a mean deviation of -0.49%

. 29 NYC/Westchester districts, with a mean deviation of -0.43%

State Assembly

In LATFOR's maps, the population deviations range from -3.88% to + 4.06%, which is a mean deviation of 2.56%. The biggest difference in district size is 10,259 people.

. 63 districts upstate, with a mean deviation of +2.44%

. 65 NYC districts, with a mean deviation of -2.32%

In the Common Cause Reform Plan, the population deviations range from -1.79% to +2.96%, with a mean deviation of 1.06%. The biggest difference in district size is 6,121 people.

. 64 Upstate, with a mean deviation of +0.65%

. 64 NYC, with a mean deviation of -0.61%

County Crossings

The LATFOR plan for the Senate crosses 18 small upstate counties:. Putnam

. Rockland

. Dutchess

. Delaware

. Albany

. Saratoga

. Washington

. Chenango

. Herkimer

. Oneida

. Ontario

. Livingston

. St. Lawrence

. Cayuga

. Ulster

. Tompkins

. Rensselaer

. Schenectady

In so doing, LATFOR divides three small upstate counties (St. Lawrence, Cayuga, and Tompkins) between three senate districts, and divides Ulster County between four senate districts

In contrast, the Common Cause Reform Plan crosses only nine small upstate counties:. Putnam

. Ulster

. Dutchess

. Rensselaer

. Saratoga

. Broome

. Oswego

. Niagara

. Herkimer

The reform maps do not divide any small counties into more than two districts.

*The slideshow will be available to reporters as a Power Point, or preferred format.

Background

In December, Common Cause released a set of proposed Congressional and State maps drawn according to good government principles, available for New Yorkers to view and adjust on the UMapNY application on Newsday's website, Newsday.com.

The maps can also be viewed here: www.citizenredistrictny.org/reform-mapsThe 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

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.

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