New York

Overview

New York Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

A politically appointed redistricting commission is charged with drafting legislative and congressional maps in New York. The President pro tempore of the New York State Senate, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and the minority leaders of the Senate and Assembly each select two members to the commission. Those eight commissioners must appoint two more members who are not enrolled with either of the two major parties by a vote of at least five members. The commissioners designate one member to be chair by majority vote. Commissioners must be registered voters of the state and no member shall within the last three years have been a member of or spouse of a member of the New York State Legislature or Congress; a statewide elected official; a state officer or employee or legislative employee; a lobbyist registered in New York; or a political party chairman. Seven members of the commission, including at least one vote from the nominees of each political party, must vote in favor of a map for it to be referred to the legislature. If seven members of the commission cannot agree on a plan by January first in the year ending in two then the plan, or plans, with the largest number of votes are referred to the legislature.

Once the Commission approves a plan and submits it to the legislature, it may either approve the plan with a majority vote or reject it. If the legislature rejects two separate plans it may amend the Commission’s proposals, but only with a two-thirds vote in both chambers. All plans must be signed by the Governor to become law.

The Supreme Court of New York has original jurisdiction over any challenges to the enacted plans.

Source: N.Y. Const. art. III, §§ 4, 5, 5-b.


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Federal Court’s Plan (Split-control Legislature failed to pass plan)
      • Adopted = March 19, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • Favors v. Cuomo, No. 11-CV-5632 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2012): After the split-control Legislature failed to pass a congressional plan, plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the existing congressional districts had become malapportioned following the 2010 census and requesting that the court order a new plan be adopted in time for the 2012 election. On March 19, 2012, the district court issued an opinion and order adopting the congressional redistricting plan attached as Appendix 1 to their opinion.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansA. 9525 (House); S. 6696 (Senate)
      • Passed = March 15, 2012 (Split-control)
      • Signed = March 15, 2012
    • Corrected PlansS. 6755
      • Passed = March 21, 2012 (Split-control)
      • Signed = March 27, 2012
      • Preclearance = May 18, 2012 (House); April 27, 2012 (Senate)
    • Litigation History
      • Little v. N.Y. State Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, No. 2310-2011 (N.Y. Dec. 1, 2011): After the Legislature passed a law requiring that inmates be counted for reapportionment purposes at their last known residence prior to incarceration rather than at their correctional facility, plaintiffs challenged the law as violating the state constitution on the grounds the practice deviated from that recommended by the U.S. Census Bureau and violated the one person, one vote constitutional principle, in addition to claims of partisan gerrymandering and equal protection violations. On December 1, 2011, the state Supreme Court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all claims and dismissed the action.
      • Cohen v. Cuomo, 969 N.E.2d 754 (N.Y. Ct. App. 2012): Plaintiffs challenged the state legislature’s state Senate redistricting plan, which increased the number of Senate districts from 62 to 63, was unconstitutional under the state constitution on the grounds the Legislature failed to apply a consistent method of calculating the number of seats due to population growth throughout the state, instead using an arbitrary method. On May 3, 2012, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the Supreme Court’s ruling that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently establish that the plan was unconstitutional and upheld the plan.
      • Favors v. Cuomo, No. 11 civ 5632 (E.D.N.Y. May 22, 2014): Several different plaintiffs filed challenges to the Legislature’s enacted state Senate plan on a variety of constitutional grounds, including malapportionment and racial gerrymandering in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On May 22, 2014, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants on all claims, finding that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the Senate plan violated the Equal Protection Clause or was malapportioned.

2000

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanS. 7536
      • Passed = June 5, 2002 (Split-controlled)
      • Signed = June 5, 2002
      • Preclearance = June 25, 2002
    • Litigation History
      • Rodriguez v. Pataki, 308 F.Supp.2d 346 (S.D.N.Y. 2004): Different groups of plaintiffs filed federal lawsuits challenging the Legislature’s enacted state Senate and congressional redistricting plans as unconstitutional on a variety of grounds, including violations of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, racial gerrymandering, and vote dilution under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On March 14, 2004, the district court upheld both plans, finding the plaintiffs failed to establish that they violated either the 14th Amendment or the Voting Rights Act.
        • Aff’d, 543 U.S. 997 (2004)
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansS. 7300 (Amending S. 6796)
      • Passed = April 22, 2002 (Split-controlled)
      • Signed = April 24, 2002
      • Preclearance = Granted on June 17, 2002
    • Litigation History
      • Allen v. Pataki, No. 101712/02 (N.Y. May 13, 2002): After the Legislature enacted its state Senate redistricting plan, plaintiffs challenged the plan as malapportioned in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On May 13, 2002, the New York Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction, finding that they failed to establish they would likely succeed on the merits of their claims.
      • Rodriguez v. Pataki, 308 F.Supp.2d 346 (S.D.N.Y. 2004): Different groups of plaintiffs filed federal lawsuits challenging the Legislature’s enacted state Senate and congressional redistricting plans as unconstitutional on a variety of grounds, including violations of the one person, one vote constitutional requirement under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, racial gerrymandering, and vote dilution under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On March 14, 2004, the district court upheld both plans, finding the plaintiffs failed to establish that they violated either the 14th Amendment or the Voting Rights Act.
        • Aff’d, 543 U.S. 997 (2004).

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Only the New York Legislature may refer amendments to the ballot. There is no initiative or referendum process.

Source: N.Y. Const. art. XXIX.

Active Ballot Measures
  • New York Assembly Bill S08833/A10839; S515/A1916 (New York Proposal 1)(2021)
    • Status - Legislature gave first passage on July 23, 2020. Legislature gave second passage on January 20, 2021. Approved for placement on 2021 ballot.
    • Summary - This ballot measure would amend the New York Constitution to clarify the number of state senators, to repeal Article 3 Section 3, to count incarcerated persons for re-enumeration, to necessitate the state to count its population should the census fail to count the total number of residents of the state, to necessitate that the state redistricting commission submits plans before November 15 of years ending in one and submits a second plan if the first is not passed by the legislature or vetoed by the governor, to necessitate an affirmative vote of seven commissioners without regard to the appointing office to send a plan to the legislature.


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