Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process
You can vote Yes or No on this ballot proposal, which would amend the New York State Constitution.
What You Will See on the Ballot
This proposed constitutional amendment would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for the counting of the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the United States Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co-executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
After each Census, district lines for Federal (Congress) and State (State Senate and Assembly) elected offices can be redrawn to account for changes in population. This process is led by the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission.
The New York State Senate has 63 districts and members. Currently, new Senate districts can be added through the redistricting process, which can be used to benefit political parties. This ballot proposal would amend the New York State Constitution to freeze the number of State Senators at 63.
This amendment sets requirements in the State Constitution for how people will be counted in the Census for redistricting purposes. It requires that prisoners be counted at their prior home address instead of their place of incarceration. It also requires counting every person living in New York State as part of the total population, regardless of citizenship status. Both requirements have been used in the past in New York State, but this amendment writes them into the State Constitution.
Redistricting for New York State is led by the ten-member Independent Redistricting Commission, which includes four Democrats, four Republicans, and two members who are not aligned with either party. These members are selected by the majority and minority leaders from the State Senate and Assembly—currently members of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. The Commission also includes two Co-Executive Directors. Currently, one Co-Executive Director must be a registered Democrat and the other a registered Republican.
To approve a redistricting plan, seven members of the Commission must vote to support it, one of whom must be from a different political party than the others. Once approved, their plan is sent to the State Legislature for final approval. The number of votes required for the legislature to approve the Commission’s plan is different depending on whether one party controls the legislature or if it is divided.
This proposal would amend the New York State Constitution so that seven members of the Commission can approve their plan, regardless of who appointed them. It would then require a simple majority in the State Legislature to approve the Commission’s plan, regardless of who controls the legislature. If the Commission fails to approve a plan, then the plan that receives the most votes would go to the legislature for consideration. It would then require 60% support in the legislature for it to pass. This proposal would also allow the Commission to appoint two Co-Executive Directors, regardless of their political party, by a simple majority vote.
Currently, the Independent Redistricting Commission is required to submit their first plan to the legislature by January 15th, 2022. Now that primary elections are held in June instead of September, there is less time to finalize district lines before the next election. This proposal would require the Commission to submit their first plan to the legislature by January 1st, 2022, and then by November 15th starting in 2031.
If Ballot Question #1 Passes
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to set the number of State Senators at 63.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to require New York State to count the total population in the Census, regardless of citizenship status.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to ensure incarcerated people are counted in the Census at their last place of residence prior to incarceration.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to require seven votes for the Independent Redistricting Commission to approve their plan, regardless of their political affiliation.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to require a simple majority in the State Legislature to approve the Commission’s plan, regardless of which party controls the legislature.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to allow the Independent Redistricting Commission to select co-Executive Directors by a simple majority, regardless of political party.
- The New York State Constitution would be amended to require the Independent Redistricting Commission to submit their first redistricting plan to the State Legislature by January 1, 2022, and by November 15 starting in 2031.