Despite having vowed to veto unduly partisan state district district lines, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a deal with legislators in Albany on Wednesday night, agreeing to permit the existing gerrymandered lines if legislators backed a constitutional amendment that would create a bipartisan redistricting commission after the 2020 census.
A bipartisan commission, however, isn’t the same as a non-partisan commission, and as long as legislators have significant influence on the redistricting process, now or in a decade, district lines will be geared toward preserving incumbents. Long before election day, politicians in Albany will have decided who will represent you. Amendment or not, that won’t change.
That’s especially clear in places like Brentwood and Hempstead on Long Island, where the voting power in communities of color has been diluted by the newly approved district lines.
About the deal, Cuomo said, “I supported an independent commission for these lines. I lost.”
But the reality is that the governor didn’t support the commission. When the time came to veto what were clearly gerrymandered district lines, he opted for the path of least resistance.
The fight isn’t over yet. The State Senate and Assembly lines will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice to see if they disenfranchise voters. In addition, there’s the possibility of lawsuits on Long Island, according to the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, one of our partners on the issue:
Governor Cuomo has gravely disappointed fair redistricting advocates. Instead of keeping his promise to veto unfair maps, he has given into Albany party leaders’ desire to protect incumbents.
The result: the continued disenfranchisement of Long Islanders, and especially Long Island’s communities of color. Now, legal challenges may emerge in areas such as Hempstead and Brentwood, which showcase the most egregious examples of gerrymandering in the state.
Visit Long Island Wins and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table in the coming months for updates on the fight for fair redistricting.