Redistricting Revisited

New York’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that Democratic leaders had violated the State Constitution when drawing new congressional and State Senate districts, ordering a court-appointed special master to draw replacement lines for this year’s critical midterm elections instead.“The New York Times”

There is no certain method for drawing fair districts. I suspect no one knows what the special master will do. In the past, districts were considered fair if they were reasonably compact. The Appeals Court now has added a new requirement–that they not be politically biased.

How new districts might be drawn is unclear.

  1. Republican or Democratic proposals of the bipartisan redistricting commission might be used as a start.
  2. Present 2010 districts might be tweaked, eliminating a district upstate or downstate.
  3. Overturned 2020 districts might be tweaked, adding Republican voters to Democratic leaning districts and Democratic voters to Republican leaning districts.
  4. New districts might be drawn dividing the state according to some geographical criteria.
  5. New districts might be drawn according to some political criteria, with a number of Republican leaning districts in proportion to the number of registered Republicans.

Whatever is decided is sure to be arbitrary.

  • The first suggestion would politically biased, the very problem the court seeks to fix.
  • The second would be blatantly political
  • The third wouldn’t change much, possibly making some contests closer.
  • The fourth might create radically new political alignments, to the advantage of one party or another and to the disadvantage of some incumbents.
  • The fifth seems unfair — courts shouldn’t decide how many Republicans NYS sends to Congress; independents and members of minor parties shouldn’t be excluded from a role.

The New York Times says the decision can’t be challenged, but I think a challenge in the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds might be possible:

Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; —.

Whatever happens, new districts are sure to be controversial and disruptive. It will be interesting to see the results.

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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