Getting stricter on redistricting
As the public aspect of state redistricting starts to wind down, the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County shifts its focus to local redistricting. In particular, our league calls attention to the recent passage of bill S.5160-B / A.229-C, a bill setting solid redistricting standards for all New York’s charter counties, such as Chautauqua. In the past, these counties have had “significant leeway when it comes to redistricting,” as noted by one of its sponsors. Weak standards and reliance upon leeway by any political party can undermine public faith.
The newly passed legislation will promote the drawing of lines based on specific guidelines consistent with state and federal constitutional requirements. Lines must be drawn in a manner that ensures:
¯ Districts are as nearly equal in population as is practicable;
¯ Districts are not drawn with the intent or result of denying equal opportunity of racial or language minority groups to participate in the political process;
¯ Districts consist of “contiguous” territory;
¯ Districts are not drawn to favor incumbents or any particular party or candidate; and
¯ Districts are formed to promote “orderly” and efficient administration of elections.
The changes set forth in the new legislation extend generally accepted standards for representation to all the people of New York state. These standards were incorporated into Chautauqua County’s Charter by amendment in 2011. We look forward to seeing all New York state counties embrace, incorporate and implement the new tenets throughout the process of local redistricting.
League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County