By Ariel Pacheco
Every 10 years the State begins its process of redrawing district lines for all elected offices behind new census data.
The redistricting process for the upcoming decade began this week and continues as New York State’s Independent Redistricting Commission holds virtual meetings that are open to the public through mid-August.
The reason the commission was created is to avoid politicians being able to redraw district lines in their favor, which is also known as gerrymandering. Historically, state legislatures had the freedom to redraw lines in any they chose, without any public input. Now, there are restrictions that stop lines from being drawn in a way that could disenfranchise voters.
“People should choose their voters and not the other way around,” said David Imamura, the Chair of the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission. “It’s important that your communities are able to be heard effectively and that is derived from drawing lines.”
The bipartisan Commission is made up of 10 members. Eight are appointed by state legislative leaders, and the other two members are appointed within the commission.
In order to fulfill the mandate of a law passed in 2014, the commission is required to give the public a forum in order to voice their opinions.
The public hearing is the first opportunity people will have to give the commission input before they begin to redraw lines. They will begin to redraw lines after the federal 2020 Census releases its data on August 16 and the initial district maps will be released to the public on September 15 for review.
The Commission will then hold a series of hearings where residents are allowed to testify.
The final district maps will then be voted on and certified by the commission and presented to the state legislature. Residents are encouraged to attend and can find additional information here.
This story first appeared on PoliticsNY.com.