The Citizens Union and League of Women Voters have offered up a FAQ detailing what the proposed redistricting constitutional amendment would achieve, how the new commission would work, and who would be eligible to serve on it. Both groups are advocating the passage of the amendment but with that caveat it is a helpful read for those looking for a detailed breakdown. Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union’s sister organization Citizens Union Foundation. Here is the FAQ:
Citizens Union and the League of Women Voters of New York State
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
on the Proposed Constitutional Amendment to Reform Redistricting
1. What does the proposed constitutional amendment accomplish?
In summary, it would replace the current Legislative Task Force for Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) redistricting process with an independent commission whose appointees are evenly divided between majority and minority parties. For the first time ever, unaffiliated or third party members would be included in the redistricting process. There will be two co‐executive directors selected by a majority vote of the commission with the rest of the staff being hired by the directors, marking the first time the staff is not hired by the majorities.
The amendment also codifies for the first time in the state constitution additional important criteria for drawing lines. The principles of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA), which are increasingly facing threat of retrogression in the courts and Congress, are added to the state constitution, preserving the rights of language and racial minorities. Lines would be prohibited from being drawn to favor or disfavor incumbents, political parties or candidates. Communities of interest are recognized for the first time as a criterion for drawing lines.
The voting procedures and thresholds for passage of a redistricting plan by the independent commission and the legislature varies depending on which parties control each house of the legislature. Supermajority votes are established to prevent dominance by one political party or majority parties in both the commission and the legislature for approval of district lines.
The proposed amendment breaks new ground in transparency by requiring software, data and maps to be provided to the public, allowing for independent analysis and the creation of maps by the public.
It also establishes firm deadlines for the different stages of the redistricting process to ensure that lines are established in a timely manner and delays in drawing maps do not disadvantage challengers running against state legislative or congressional incumbents.
These important changes would be made permanent through the passage of a constitutional amendment. The proposed amendment will be accompanied by a statute which will provide insurance against the amendment not achieving second passage and place an additional constraint on the legislature’s ability to amend the lines proposed by the commission.
Citizens Union and the League of Women Voters of New York State Page 2 Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Redistricting Constitutional Amendment
1. How is the ten‐member independent commission (“the Commission”) appointed?
Each of the four legislative leaders appoints two members, and two additional members are appointed by a vote of not less than five of the original eight members. These two additional members must not have been enrolled in either of the two major political parties in the preceding five years. For the first time, the redistricting process includes equal representation among the four legislative leaders and appointees not of the Republican and Democratic parties.
LATFOR is comprised of six members, with two each from the majority parties in each house with only one each from the minority party, effectively giving the majority parties full control of the process, ignoring the views of the minority parties.
2. Who can serve?
Rules prohibit those with conflicts of interest from serving on the Commission including no person who has served in the last three years as a New York legislator, statewide elected official, member of congress, and spouses of the preceding groups, legislators’ staff, lobbyists, state officers, state employees, or party chairs. To the extent practicable, the appointments should reflect the diversity of the state and result from consultation with outside groups.
Four of the six members of LATFOR are legislators.
Read the rest of this entry »
By David King on March 14, 2012, 6:01 pm
In category: Albany
,Eye on Albany | 4 Comments »