September 28 Webinar: Redistricting and Census Data

The N.Y. Census & Redistricting Institute at New York Law School is hosting a webinar on “Redistricting: Working With Census Data” on Tuesday, September 28 from 4:00 to 5:30 PM.

Speakers include Steve Romalewski (CUNY Mapping Service, Jan Vink (Cornell University) and Jose Galarza (Redistricting Data Hub). The event will be moderated by Marissa Zanfardino (New York Law School)

Register for the event here: www.nyls.edu/CensusRSVP

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Dueling Election Maps Split On Prison Data

Kate Lisa reports in Hudson Valley 360 on the state’s prisoner reallocation process for redistricting.

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Jeff Wice: Don’t Let Criticism Of IRC Prevent You From Weighing In On The Maps

In an interview with Spectrum News’ Susan Arbetter, I commented that “(t)ime is of the essence.  The maps need to be approved by the beginning of February so they don’t interfere with petitioning to get on the ballot. If the legislature is pressed for time, members could review the public hearings for what Wice called “background and insights”. 

“It is worth going to the hearings because every witness, every statement counts to what the legislature might consider later if it’s necessary for the legislature to draw a plan, or a plan is challenged before a court,” Wice explained. “They will look back to see what the public said.”

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NYPIRG’s Blair Horner on New York State’s Redistricting Commission’s Early Gridlock

NYPIRG’s Blair Horner writes for WAMC: “This year marks the first time that New York has relied on a redistricting commission to develop its plans. In decades past, the maps were developed by a state legislative committee. Supporters of the creation of this new system insisted that it would lead to an independent process. Opponents argued it would not.

So far, the opponents are right.”

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Obscure 1894 Math Crucial To New York Politics Is Endangered

In Politico, Bill Mahoney explains how the State Senate was able to increase in size after the 1970 through 2010 census counts: “(t)he general trend in American state legislatures has been toward downsizing, with the number of members increasing in only one of the country’s 99 chambers since the early 1980s.

Yet that outlier has increased its membership with some regularity: The New York State Senate went from 57 to 60 members in 1972, up to 61 in 1982, 62 in 2002, and 63 in 2012. It’s become a decennial tradition in Albany for Senate Republicans to announce in the final weeks of the redistricting process that they’ve discovered they can adjust the size of the Senate, and then they squeeze in a new district that coincidentally happens to benefit their political interests.”

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‘Weird Stuff:’ New York Releases Rough Drafts Of New District Lines

Politico’s Bill Mahoney covered yesterday’s release of Democratic and Republican redistricting maps, where he writes that “members of New York’s new Independent Redistricting Commission released two draft plans on Wednesday for what congressional and state legislative districts might look like over the next decade.

It’s clear that they’re far from a finished product. Notably, much of the discussion of redistricting this cycle has focused on how aggressively Democrats might use their new legislative supermajorities to increase the number of congressional seats the party might win. But even the Democratic set of maps would make life more difficult for incumbent congressional Democrats, guaranteeing a push in the coming months for the maps to be overhauled by the commission or simply ignored by the Legislature.https://45407ab5a0e54e1b77c8d94e6779aea7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“They don’t seem to be grounded in reality,” one Democratic insider said of the maps. “There just seems to be weird stuff.”

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Takeaways From New York’s (Competing!) Redistricting Draft Maps

City & State’s coverage of today’s release of Democratic and Republican draft proposals for congressional, senate and assembly districts:

“The draft maps released Wednesday are far from final, with the 10-member commission announcing 14 hearings across the state to gain input from New Yorkers about the plans. But they are a good indicator of how the process is going. Commission Chair David Imamura noted that the Commission was dealing with pandemic-related delays while analyzing Census data. “The commission has had the data … for barely a month,” he said?.”

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LATFOR Meets Friday on Prisoner Reallocation Data For Redistricting

The Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, known as LATFOR, will meet on Friday, September 17th to discuss and vote on the release of data for the reallocation of incarcerated persons from their prison facilities to their homes of record prior to incarceration for legislative redistricting purposes.

The meeting will take place at 11:00 AM at 250 Broadway, Room 1923, in Manhattan.

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New York Redistricting Process Heads Into Map-Drawing Phase

In the Gotham Gazette, Ethan Geringer-Sameth takes a look at how “New York’s legislative redistricting commission is moving into its next phase following a series of public hearings intended to get a sense of the contours of “communities of interest,” a new criteria being incorporated into the line-drawing process for the first time this cycle, in addition to constitutional and statutory requirements.

The commission, itself a nascent entity, held nine public hearings in regions around the state this summer to solicit feedback from New Yorkers about what ties their communities together. Officials say the public input was key to finding the best-fit boundaries for the new units of representation for the U.S. House of Representatives, State Senate, and State Assembly, to be voted on by the State Legislature next year.”

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New York’s 2020 Census Victory – How It Happened & What’s Next

Gotham Gazette published a column I wrote on the 2020 Census and what happens next in redistricting:

“Despite concerns that the 2020 Census count in New York City would reflect a major minority undercount and leave out people who left because of the pandemic, we came out on top.

The results of the Census were outstanding for the region. After decades of alleged Census undercounts, the New York City saw its population grow by 7.7% since 2010.

And it’s even more remarkable given unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic and the Trump administration. Census counting was delayed by several months. Then-President Donald Trump also tried numerous times to subvert the Census count by trying to add a citizenship question, later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court after the administration failed to follow standard government procedures, though concerns over such a question led many immigrants to shun the Census over fear of arrest or deportation. Trump also cut short the Census counting period by several weeks and attempted to adjust the final state population counts for partisan purposes.

How did New York City do it? By coming together to get out the count.

Mayor de Blasio and the City Council committed $40 million to Census outreach efforts. Groups including the Association for a Better New York and the New York Counts 2020 coalition invested time and energy to grassroots outreach. 

Also critical to the city’s Census “success” was the ability of the New York City Department of City Planning to add 265,000 housing units missing from the Census Bureau’s address lists so that every household would receive a Census form in the mail. This effort alone may have resulted in counting half a million city residents who might otherwise have been missed.

Every single one of these New Yorkers mattered. We cannot forget that the state lost two or three districts after each of the last three censuses, with one district lost this time because we came up short 89 people in the state population totals.

There are critical lessons that we must learn from how New York City was able to beat the odds and deliver a strong Census count, thanks to the heroics of grassroots organizers and city leadership.

The Census has now been politicized like never before, with the Trump administration openly attempting to sabotage the count. New York must keep the infrastructure we have developed in place for the next time, and add to it, especially at the state level.

Early planning and investment is critical, and we cannot wait until the year before the 2030 Census to get ready. Our governor, mayors, legislators, and other elected officials must invest in ongoing demographic studies to gauge population shifts. State and local complete count committees need to be organized several years in advance and must receive adequate funding.

It’s mind-boggling to think of how much better a Census count New York might have had if well-funded efforts ramped up much earlier. California invested over $90 million for Census efforts and helped stave off the loss of several congressional districts. Minnesota’s well-organized private-sector efforts helped prevent the loss of one congressional district by 26 people.

For the next Census, New York should be able to keep all of its congressional seats.

Right now, New Yorkers should turn their attention to the state’s new Independent Redistricting Commission, a body created by a 2014 state constitutional amendment that took the initial district line-drawing responsibility from the Legislature to make the process more transparent and participatory.

The commission, appointed largely by the state’s legislative leaders, recently completed a “listening tour” round of public hearings via the Internet to hear from New Yorkers on the kind of districts they want to see in place for the 2022 elections and through the 2031 elections. The commission asked for New Yorkers’ ideas on how to draw districts using “communities of interest,” basing districts on shared economic, social, religious, social, and other neighborhood factors. Other factors that must be considered include population equality and fairness to minority voters, compactness, contiguity, and partisan fairness. The criteria also suggest consideration of the cores of current districts.

The commission is targeting mid-September to release its draft congressional and state legislative maps. Another series of statewide public hearings will follow in October. New Yorkers should let the commission know what they think of the draft maps at those hearings before final maps are sent to the Legislature for approval or modification at the end of the year.

While we won’t know how the final lines will be drawn, for the first time in a long time, we know that the state’s population is more diverse and still growing at a time when it is most needed.”

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