On Feb. 24 of this year, I submitted a letter detailing the partisan failure of our state’s redistricting process. In that letter, I described how the voters of our county and state were effectively disenfranchised by gerrymandered district maps which resulted from one party rule.
Last week, the judicially-appointed special master unveiled his maps for both Congress and the state Senate. These maps are fair and represent the impartiality the Independent Redistricting Commission was supposed to operate on, drawing maps which respect community boundaries in our region without consideration for partisanship or incumbency.
When the Democrats made a farce of the constitutionally-mandated independent redistricting process, they argued that the resulting partisan maps were fair, necessary, and represented communities of interest. These transparently false claims were rejected by courts full of judges nominated by both political parties, who clearly saw that they were deficient both in terms of the process by which they were created as well as the substance of the districts themselves.
Although the Democrats certainly did not intend it, the rejection of their maps by judges appointed by both parties and the drawing of new maps by a neutral individual finally gave New Yorkers what they have long sought: an impartial, non-partisan map drawing process. The judges involved are worthy of praise for their discretion and non-partisanship, doing what our elected leaders in Albany refused to do: show real leadership.
The inability of Democrats in the state Legislature to create a fair and impartial map will have tangible and immediate negative consequences for the people of Albany County. In order to create a timeline which will accommodate the new maps, primary elections for Congress and state Senate are now being held on a second, separate date in August from other party primary elections in June. This second primary will cost taxpayers millions statewide, and the state has not committed any funding to help cover the county’s cost for conducting a second primary.
Our county Board of Elections could not have reasonably foreseen the need for a second primary under state law and did not budget for it. State leaders created this mess, and the state should commit funds to ensure the county and its taxpayers are not unreasonably burdened by their failure to act in a reasonable and bipartisan fashion.
The decision of the courts and the resulting maps will no doubt improve trust and public confidence in our state’s judiciary and their ability to rule fairly and without bias. It is a shame that legislative leaders could not work along the same principles, and in many respects they have been made to pay the price.
Albany County Legislature