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Census info suggests Dems to win redistricting

Jan 27, 2011 9:41 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="New York State Senate Districts"][/caption]Redistricting of state Assembly and Senate seats, expected this Spring after final Census numbers get hashed out and released in April, seem poised to present good news to New York Democrats, despite rumblings from the new Republican majority in the State Senate, formally in control of redistricting, to do things on their own and not through a citizen's commission, as previously promised. According to The Capitol, demographers are saying a few things are already clear: minorities are moving to the suburbs of Long Island and Westchester, while upstate districts are losing residents. "Add to that the passage of a state law forbidding prison-based gerrymandering and new rules from the Supreme Court on how states can use the Voting Rights Act to draw districts, and several traditionally Republican districts upstate may have to be consolidated or redrawn." The number of Senate and Assembly districts is not set in stone. While Legislators prefer an even number of districts to avoid giving any one party an advantage, they can always vote to add more. After the 2000 census, for instance, the state added its 62nd Senate district. Legislators of both parties seem likely to put some restrictions on the process. Bills introduced by both Democrats and Republicans for the new redistricting suggest “limits placing incumbents against each other” and “preservation of county boundaries” as possible criteria for any new district map.

Upstate districts will lose a combined 60,000 constituents to changes in prison-based gerrymandering—the process of counting prison populations in the district where they are incarcerated instead of where each prisoner is from. “Most of the prison population—over 43,000 people—are from New York City,” said Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. “The next largest chunk are from Long Island, then Westchester. Draw your own conclusions about what that will do to districts in those areas.”

Likely redrawn senate districts will include that represented, currently, by James Seward, the 51st, as well as the neighboring 42nd, controlled by John Bonacic. Both are Republicans.

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