2022 REDISTRICTING by Tom Reynolds
Last week, the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) announced it would host eight public listening sessions across the state prior to redrawing state legislative and congressional district lines, a process which takes place every ten years to reflect population changes. The sessions are a result of a 2014 public referendum in which millions of New Yorkers voted in favor of a Constitutional Amendment assembling the IRC in the hopes of ensuring fair and honest guidelines for the upcoming 2022 redistricting effort.
The listening sessions will only be held virtually.
Each virtual meeting will begin at 2 p.m. and the schedule for the first round of hearings is as follows:
- Tuesday, July 20 in Nassau and Suffolk counties;
- Thursday, July 22 in Queens County;
- Monday, July 26 in Bronx and New York counties;
- Thursday, July 29 in Kings and Richmond counties;
- Monday, August 2 in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Capital Region;
- Thursday, August 5 in the North Country and Mohawk Valley;
- Monday, August 9 in the Southern Tier and Central New York; and
- Thursday, August 12 in the Finger Lakes and Western New York.
- Whether the new district lines would result in the prohibited denial or abridgment of racial or language minority voting rights;
- To the extent practicable, districts containing as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants;
- Districts must consist of contiguous territory and shall be as compact in form as practicable;
- Districts cannot be drawn to discourage competition, or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents; and
- The maintenance of existing districts, pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, towns, and communities of interest.
The first redistricting draft proposal will be made public on September 15; additional hearings will then be scheduled.
More information about the regional redistricting meetings and how to participate virtually or submit testimony is available on the IRC’s website.
The Independent Redistricting Commission was created through an amendment to the New York State Constitution which went into effect on January 1, 2015. This amendment created the Commission and set forth its composition and overall mission. The amendment was approved by the voters of New York State in November 2014.
The following is how it is supposed to work:
Every decade beginning in 2020, a 10-member bipartisan commission shall be established, with eight members appointed by New York's four legislative leaders (two appointments per leader), and the remaining two members appointed jointly by the first eight members. The Commission is required to create a plan for the re-drawing of the State legislative and congressional districts, and must take into account various State and federal constitutional and statutory requirements, including:
Approval of a redistricting plan by the Commission shall require a vote in support by at least seven members, including at least one appointed by each of the legislative leaders. If no plan is able to garner seven votes prior to the submission deadline, the Commission shall submit the plan that received the most votes to the Legislature, along with a record of the votes taken.
The Commission shall submit its redistricting plan to the Legislature on or before January 1, 2022, or as soon as practicable thereafter, but no later than January 15, 2022. Legislative approval of the redistricting plan shall require a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of both the Senate and the Assembly.
If the Legislature fails to approve the plan, or the Governor vetoes the plan and an override by the Legislature fails, the Commission shall be notified and within 15 days of the notification (but no later than February 28, 2022), a second plan shall be submitted to the Legislature for approval. Should the Legislature fail to approve a redistricting plan as submitted by the Commission, the Legislature shall provide amendments deemed necessary and, if approved, submit such legislation to the Governor for action on the measure.