Voters in Syracuse Will Decide on Independent Redistricting Commission Proposal

The Syracuse Common Council yesterday took historic action toward creating an independent redistricting commission to draw districts for the City of Syracuse. The Common Council voted 7-1 in favor of a charter amendment that will require future redistricting to be done by an independent redistricting commission that includes members of both parties and safeguards against conflicts of interest from the members of the commission. If authorized by the voters and implemented by the Common Council. Syracuse would be the first city east of the Mississippi to use a completely independent redistricting process for its municipal redistricting.

“In a democracy, voters should be choosing politicians, not the other way around and in November, Syracuse voters will have the opportunity to empower an independent redistricting commission to draw their districts,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. “It is exciting to see Syracuse at the cutting edge of redistricting reform – exactly where New York deserves to be. We are looking forward to working with the Syracuse Common Council to educate voters on the importance of independent redistricting and to a successful referendum in November. Independent redistricting is a key part of a government that works for everyone. Voters deserve nothing less.”

Yesterday’s vote comes after three months of study sessions, public hearings, and one-on-one meetings between redistricting reform advocates and members of the Common Council. The charter amendment will now be placed on the November 2019 ballot and voters will be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether districts should be drawn by voters rather than the politicians who run in them.

The last time new districts were drawn in Syracuse was 2002. The current Syracuse City Charter requires redistricting only if any district’s population drops below 15% of the city’s total population or rises above 25%. When new districts are drawn, each district must contain between 17% and 23% of the population. The charter change mandates that the independent redistricting commission will draw new lines every ten years, based on the total population as determined by the federal census.