LWV of Westchester County issues statement on redistricting

As a nonpartisan citizen’s organization, the League of Women Voters has long supported the appointment of an independent commission for the redistricting process. The League believes that the results of the present partisan process only serve to demonstrate the need for such an independent body. Analysis makes evident that the process has resulted in even more gerrymandered lines particularly for the state Senate Districts than in the past.

The 37th Senate District map shows zigzagging lines drawn through Yonkers, New Rochelle and White Plains – splitting these communities in such a manner as to carve minorities out of this district. The concept of ‘community of interest’ was clearly abandoned in dividing these municipalities. The lack of adherence to the concept of ‘community of interest’ is further demonstrated by putting Scarsdale in the 35th district with the River towns and western part of the County when its community of interest lies with the eastern side of the county – especially when it comes to flooding issues and storm water management, significant issues in that part of the County…and part of the Scarsdale School district lies in Mamaroneck.

Then we have the example of Ossining – which has been moved into a senate district in Rockland County – on the other side of the Hudson River – completely isolated from the rest of Westchester County.

The League is also deeply concerned and disappointed with the timing as well. The lines were released only last Thursday, January 26, and the hearings for comments began on Monday January 30. There were a very limited number of hearings scheduled and few, if any, of those were located in the counties most affected by the proposed redistricting. In many cases, there was not enough time for the distribution of materials to the public to allow for meaningful input. This clearly limits the opportunities for communities and individual voters to do the type of in depth analysis and review needed to provide comments We are now being told that there is little or no time to make changes because of the Federal Court’s setting of the date for congressional primaries and the lines must be adopted. We find the release date and the present urgency all too convenient and an attempt at a ‘fait accompli’.

The public wants and deserves an independent commission to draw the state legislative and congressional districts according to fair and objective criteria with meaningful public input. We urge Governor Cuomo to veto these lines and appoint an independent commission. The people of the state of New York deserve better than a system that allows politicians to draw lines that insure their continuance in power at the expense of the public’s right to representation.

Carolyn Stevens, Board Member, LWVW
Sharon Lindsay, President, LWVW
February 2012

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