The New York Public Interest Research Group, the League of Women Voters, local Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and several other politicians are calling for a sensible solution to the redistricting of New York. Despite a 75 percent disapproval rating for the state legislature, incumbents enjoy more than a 90 percent reelection rate. Part of what helps them win, is the ability to redraw the district lines to ensure the necessary votes.
Using the 2010 Census data, state legislatures are now required to redraw district lines. Jeffries and others are calling for a non-partisan third party group to wrest the power from the legislators.
Jeffries found out personally just how much power is surrendered to legislators by allowing them to redraw districts in their best interest. After running a competitive campaign against Roger Green in 2000, the district line was redrawn to move the block where he lives from the 57th to the 52nd. Green eventually plead guilty to larceny charges and Jeffries was able to move back into the 57th and win election in 2006.
In the Bronx, Senator Guy Velella drew competitor Lorraine Coyle Koppell’s house out of the 34th district after a tough race in 2000. Velella redrew his district to include Rikers Island where he would eventually reside after being convicted on bribery charges.
Hakeem Jeffries and State Senator Eric Schneider also recently sponsored a bill to count prisoners in their home districts instead of in the districts where they are in prison. This change added 30,000 people to New York City districts.
Sarah Kate Kramer, True/False: Rational Redistricting Is Possible, WNYC
Rick Karlin, NYPIRG/LWV’s Redistricting push, Times Union
Bobby Cuza, Crooked Lines, NY1