Flawed redistricting panel leaves legislators in charge
I believe that the establishment of balanced legislative districts is fundamental to the operation of effective representative government. My reading leads me to believe that the impending fall New York ballot resolution, purportedly creating an independent redistricting commission, is severely flawed.
I am incredulous that this commission would be constructed in such an obviously biased manner. The Legislature has no business being in control in this process. There is simply too much temptation to create “safe” districts.
It is my understanding that legislative leaders would appoint eight of the 10 members, and those eight would then select the final two. The legislative vote would change depending on political control: if the two legislative houses were controlled by different parties, a simple majority vote would be sufficient to approve redistricting plans, but if the same party controlled both houses, a supermajority vote would be required.
New York’s most recent redistricting process was controlled by the Legislature, with a redistricting commission having an advisory role. New York lost two congressional districts as a result of the 2010 census, making the process all the more contentious. New York’s politically split Legislature could not reach a timely decision on drawing districts.
A federal court ultimately developed its own plan, which was approved on March 19, 2012. The plan created an unusually high number of politically balanced districts.
Perhaps this evidence speaks loudly that, once again, an independent third party should be in control of this process.
Thomas Nemmer Hamburg