Citizens Union, a good-government group, released a report this afternoon that says the current process of redistricting makes for uncompetitive elections, public officials who are unaccountable and unsolved public-policy issues. The report includes data on the results of “decades of partisan gerrymandering” to back up Citizens Union’s claim. For example, 96 percent of incumbents in the Legislature have been re-elected since 2002; just 38 incumbents were not re-elected in 941 races.
“Drawing district boundaries for partisan advantage rather than the public interest has long had a harmful impact on the very functioning of our government, corrupting the spirit and reality of representative democracy in New York State,” Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, said in a statement. “This report demonstrates unequivocally how the rigged practice of partisan gerrymandering has made elections dramatically less competitive with rising margins of victory and sky-high re-election rates among incumbents.”
Citizens Union and other like-minded organizations want lawmakers to hold a special session before the end of the year to adopt legislation for independent redistricting. That doesn’t appear likely. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would veto any redistricting legislation that is not independent.
Meanwhile, a group of voters from around the state have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Legislature and its legislative redistricting committee—the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.
Senate Democrats, who are in the minority, support the recommendations in the report, Mike Murphy, spokesman from Senate Democrats, said in a statement. “For too long, our redistricting process has acted as an incumbent protection program—now is the time for change,” he said.
Senate Democrats blame their GOP counterparts for the lack of an independent process, saying they “broke their own promises of reform,” Murphy said. “People across New York are sick and tired of status quo politicians who promise one thing to get elected but do nothing once in office.”
This is the Citizens Union report: