Pols urge voters to turn down redistricting proposal
Amendment ‘deeply flawed,’ Jeffries says
A proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution to change the way congressional and state legislative district maps are drawn is facing fierce opposition from a group of lawmakers who charged that it’s a flawed plan.
On Wednesday, Congress members Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler joined state Senators Velmanette Montgomery and Liz Krueger and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso in opposing Proposal 1, the amendment that will be on the ballot on Nov. 4.
The lawmakers, several of whom appeared at a press conference at Borough Hall, urged voters to reject the proposed amendment.
“Prop 1 purports to combat the cancer of partisan gerrymandering that undermines the integrity of our democracy. While the goal is laudable, the mechanism employed is deeply flawed,” Jeffries (D-Brooklyn-Queens) said. “The redistricting panel that would be created by this constitutional amendment raises more questions than answers, and could lock in an unfair partisan advantage for decades. We cannot take that risk, and that is why I [strongly] urge a no vote.”
If passed, Proposal 1 would create a 10-member redistricting commission appointed by legislative party leaders to draw district maps, a task that is currently undertaken by the State Legislature. Redistricting is done every 10 years following the U.S. Census. For years, good government groups have charged that the redistricting system is fraught with political favor-trading and results in haphazardly drawn districts designed to keep incumbents in power.
Opponents of Proposal 1 argue the amendment would lock a flawed redistricting plan into the New York State constitution for decades to come and would perpetuate an already broken system.
“We can and must do better in order to achieve truly fair legislative representation for New Yorkers at both the state and federal levels,” Nadler (D-Manhattan-Brooklyn) said.
“Proposal 1 sets up a system that will institutionalize into our state constitution the cracking and packing that has divided Latino and African American communities in New York, resulting in under representation in the state senate,” Reynoso (D-Bushwick) said.
“While Prop 1 may look like a step forward, it is really worse than the current system. It sets a dangerous precedent by adding to our state constitution a committee whose rules change based on the party in power,” said Lander (D-Park Slope-Carroll Gardens).
But the proposed amendment has been endorsed by the non-partisan group Citizens Union.
“Albany is broken and New Yorkers now have the opportunity to fix this rigged system and hold legislators accountable,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union. “This state constitutional amendment will ban partisan gerrymandering by outlawing legislative maps drawn for political advantage and put power back in the hands of New Yorkers.”
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