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Government Law Center Releases New Explainer on NY Redistricting

By Ben Meyers
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The Government Law Center at Albany Law School has just released its latest explainer to help attorneys, politicians, and the public at large understand the complexities of New York’s redistricting process.

In “Redistricting for the 2022 Elections” author and GLC Legal Director Richard Rifkin points out that New York is about to engage in a new and untried procedure in creating legislative and congressional districts following the 2020 census. This process could make a big difference in the 2022 elections and all elections to follow.

Since America’s founding, state legislatures have had the authority to draw both state legislative and congressional districts. Nearly all of them have used this authority to gain political advantage for the majority party and its candidates otherwise known as “gerrymandering.” 

New York took a significant step to attempt to limit gerrymandering in 2014 with a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that created an independent 10-member redistricting commission. The legislature still has final approval of maps, but the new commission has the authority to draft the initial maps. The commission procedure will be implemented for the first time in the upcoming 2021-2022 legislative and congressional redistricting following the 2020 census.

Rifkin explores many more details of the commission process in the explainer, but points out, “we are entering a new era in New York with respect to redistricting. How this will play out is, at this point, quite uncertain.”

The explainer is the latest in a series from the Government Law Center that concisely map out the law that applies to important questions of public policy. The Center has also created explainers on immigration, aging, and policing policy.

Read the explainer here.