Good Govt Groups Call For Transparent Redistricting Process as Commission Weighs New Congressional Map
On Monday, Common Cause/NY joined nine other good government, immigration, and social justice organizations in issuing a letter to the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission that called on its Commissioners to prioritize transparency and consider public input as it drafts a new Congressional map for the 2024 election cycle. The Commission has until February 28, 2024 to submit new Congressional boundaries to the NYS Legislature for consideration, but has not yet agreed to any open hearings or other forms of input from the public.
Read the letter attached and below.
The list of organizations signing onto the letter includes the APA VOICE Redistricting Task Force, Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF), Citizens Union, Common Cause/NY, Empire State Indivisible, League of Women Voters New York, New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET), New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), and Reinvent Albany.
“The lack of public trust in New York’s redistricting process is pronounced and voters are weary of ever changing district lines and the attendant uncertainty it brings right before a consequential election cycle. We urge the Commission to make every attempt at collaboration, meaningful public input, openness and transparency before submitting any new congressional map plan to the Legislature,” the groups write in the letter.
The letter specifically calls on the Commission to hold hybrid hearings across the state and to allow written testimony from the public that the Commission is then required to share with all commissioners. The letter also highlights the importance of soliciting public input to ensure any new map reflects the diversity of New York’s population and upholds the principle of fair representation.
Earlier this month, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the State’s Congressional maps must be redrawn, concluding that the current version used during the 2022 election cycle was temporary. The ruling ordered the State’s independent redistricting commission to produce a new proposal by Feb. 28.
December 18, 2023
Ken Jenkins Chair
Charles Nesbitt Vice Chair
Ross Brady, Esq.
Yovan Samuel Collado John Conway III, Esq.
Dr. Ivelisse Cuevas-Molina
Dr. John Flateau
Lisa Harris, Esq.
Willis H. Stephens, Jr., Esq.
Re: Ensuring Transparent Redistricting Commission Hearings Dear Commissioners,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to prioritize transparency and public participation as you resume drawing New York’s congressional map in the coming weeks. Our organizations represent a broad range of groups and communities that remain deeply invested in an equitable and transparent process that includes substantive input from New Yorkers around the state. We firmly believe that an open redistricting process is critical for ensuring that the voices of all New Yorkers are heard.
New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to weigh in on district lines before they are finalized despite the challenges presented by the procedurally set timeline for the creation and submission of the new map. The adherence to a strict timeline should not be achieved at the expense of the interests of everyday New Yorkers. Notwithstanding the position expressed by some commissioners in their December 15 statement, we note that several commissioners are newly appointed and do not have the benefit of having heard directly from New Yorkers at the hearings held in 2021 and early 2022. Moreover, prior hearings held were not in response to current congressional maps drawn by the Special Master.
The Commission should solicit feedback from New Yorkers by holding hybrid hearings at different locations in the state. The Commission should also allow the public to submit written testimony that the Commission is required to share with all commissioners. Such hearings and written testimony are required to ensure that any new map reflects the diversity of New York’s population and upholds the principles of the Voting Rights Act. To ensure fair representation for all New Yorkers, we urge you to protect communities of interest and minority voices throughout the state.
Finally, the Commission should make it clear that its duty is to the public, not elected officials or political parties. Holding mapping deliberations in public will significantly help the Commission achieve this goal. It is our hope that the Commision collaborates and prioritizes reaching aconsensus on the new map. New Yorkers deserve a redistricting process free of gridlock, and we ask that the Commissioners do everything in their power to reach an agreement.
The lack of public trust in New York’s redistricting process is pronounced and voters are weary of ever changing district lines and the attendant uncertainty it brings right before a consequential election cycle. We urge the Commission to make every attempt at collaboration, meaningful public input, openness and transparency before submitting any new congressional map plan to the Legislature.
APA VOICE Redistricting Task Force
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF) Citizens Union
Empire State Indivisible
League of Women Voters New York
New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET)
New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) Reinvent Albany