The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission met virtually on Sept. 9 to discuss the helpfulness of public hearings as well as plan for their first in-person meeting on Sept. 15.
Back in 2014, voters in New York State voted for a constitutional amendment to implement changes to the process of redrawing the lines of state legislative and congressional districts. The goal of the proposal was to reform the redistricting process “to introduce greater independence, and guarantee the application of substantive criteria that protect minority voting rights, communities of interest, and rational line-drawing.”
In the last few months, the Redistricting Commission has been holding public hearings to get New Yorkers’ input on the redistricting process.
“I want to thank the people of New York who provided so much information to the commission in any form,” said David Imamura, chairperson of the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission. “I think I speak for the whole commission when I say that we thought all of these hearings were incredibly helpful.”
Imamura said almost 1,600 people signed up on the commission’s website and over 430 people sent in written submissions. Almost 300 people spoke at the hearings, and they have been viewed about 5,000 times between Facebook and YouTube.
“Although we all care deeply about the state and we all are deeply involved in those areas where we live, we can’t possibly know every corner of New York State, and the ability to have a listening tour like that, to listen and then to be able to take what we learned and apply, I think is very important,” said Jack Martins, vice chair of the NYS Independent Redistricting Commission.
Commissioner Charles Nesbitt made a point to highlight the importance of the work the commission is doing.
“Take notice of the moment. It is incredibly difficult to change the constitution of the State of New York. It requires the participation of the legislature, two consecutive legislatures; it requires the participation and the engagement of the people of the State of New York. The fact that the constitution has been changed, the fact that there was public support for the change, I think came from a certain disgust over long-term partisan gerrymandering. So, I would charge us all and certainly take notice of this moment... We need to work together. We need to cooperate and we need to compromise, and anything short of that fails the people of the State of New York.”
The commission also announced that they have brought on Redistricting Partners as a map-drawing consultant. Imamura said that the nonpartisan consulting firm had worked on the redistricting of 60 municipalities, including the city of Los Angeles. Redistricting Partners will be bringing on sub-vendor Redistricting Insights to assist them.
At the end of the meeting, the group made plans to meet in-person for the first time on Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. The meeting will be posted on the commission’s website at nyirc.gov.