September 17, 2021

By: Ilana Foggle

Here we are, yet again, sharing news with you all that another state legislature is denying the will of the people through the redistricting process and gerrymandering for their own political gain. By now, we are no strangers to the anti-democratic gerrymander. States like Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida have recently been in the spotlight for engaging in abhorrent gerrymandering practices, despite constituents and voters overwhelmingly rejecting the use of partisan gerrymandering. 

Well, New York is no different.

Seven years ago, New Yorkers voted for a new bipartisan commission to draw congressional district lines that do not favor any one political party. Though the commission will be unveiling their proposed maps this week, Democratic legislators in New York are plotting a power grab to throw away the proposed district lines and create new ones that may eliminate as many as five GOP-held seats.

Gerrymandering is not a partisan issue. Both Democrats and Republicans have used gerrymandering to unjustly favor their own party and diminish the power of the people. 

With the results of the 2020 census, New York is already poised to lose one congressional seat – leaving New York with a total of 26 House seats. For the first time in decades, Democrats in New York control the Legislature and the governor’s office, opening the door to reshaping districts without consultation from Republicans. Should this effort succeed, Democrats could end up controlling as many as 23 of the 26 House seats under the most aggressive gerrymandering scenario.

Specific targets for gerrymandering in New York include Republican districts stretching from the eastern tip of Long Island, through Staten Island, and up to northern and western New York.

A proposed map of redistricting in New York state that would favor Democrats.

Democratic leaders in Washington have valid concerns about the 2022 midterm elections. With Republican-led state legislatures gerrymandering in states like Ohio and Florida, Democrats are concerned that they will lose their hold on Congress to unjust voter suppression tactics. Hence, some New York democratic legislators see the redistricting process in the state as an opportunity to level the playing field nationally.

That said, for a party that has championed voting rights and democracy reform, it is especially disconcerting and hypocritical to see New York Democrats use suppressive tactics like gerrymandering to keep their hold on Congress. Gerrymandering is cheating––plain and simple. No matter the political party, we must speak out against partisan power grabs meant to suppress the will of the people.

On September 14, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Manchin, along with several Democratic co-sponsors, introduced the Freedom to Vote Act which would make Election Day a holiday, end partisan gerrymandering, and stop dark money in elections.

If passed, this landmark legislation would be the most impactful pro-democracy bill in decades. It would prevent states like New York from gerrymandering maps and would put the power back in the hands of voters.

Time is short. The Freedom to Vote Act must pass before voting maps are finalized by state legislatures later this year, or we could be stuck with gerrymandered maps for the next decade.

We need your help. Add your name to send a message to your senators urging them to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

RepresentUs is America’s leading anti-corruption organization working city-by-city, state-by-state to fix our broken political system.