Split Between Common Cause and League of Women Voters Over NY Ballot Measure on Redistricting

Lou Jacobson at Crystal Ball has this description of a ballot measure those of us in NY are in the midst of voting on. The measure bundles together several issues concerning redistricting:

Proposal 1: This is the first of the election-related measures, and it deals primarily with redistricting. Among other things, the measure would cap the state Senate at 63 members; count people in prison as residing at their last place of residence rather than where they are incarcerated; speed up the timeline for redistricting plans by two weeks; reduce the minority party’s influence in a redistricting commission that was enacted in 2014; and change the vote threshold for redistricting from a supermajority to a simple majority, as long as one party controls both chambers of the legislature.

The proposal is backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. For decades, the redistricting process included both Democrats and Republicans, because the Democrats held the state Assembly while the Republicans controlled the state Senate, either outright or in partnership with renegade Democrats. Given that lineup, the two parties had to work together to get it done or courts had to get involved. That changed in 2018, when the Democrats took control of the state Senate. Now, Democratic legislators are pursuing this proposal, which would put more authority over redistricting in their hands. As the Crystal Ball noted in our New York redistricting preview, if Democratic legislators amend the redistricting drafts from the state commission, Proposal 1 would give them more breathing room when passing their own maps.

Proposal 1’s provision on incarcerated populations would count people from New York City as residing there, rather than in prison facilities located far upstate. Under the status quo, inmates bolster the population of small and often shrinking counties, increasing those locales’ political muscle even though the inmates cannot vote. On balance, Democrats would gain from this provision.

New York Common Cause and the New York Public Interest Research Group support the changes, but the New York League of Women Voters and Citizens Union oppose it. In an interview with Spectrum News, former GOP Rep. John Faso called the changes “a very cynical maneuver” by Democrats to “consolidate their power.”

Update: Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY has a piece advocating passage of this and other voting-related ballot measures on the NY ballot

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