New York’s disappointing maps

The redrawing of New York legislative maps is a mess and threatens to erode confidence in Albany. Governor Cuomo and the legislature can and should step in to set things right.

For Latinos, a group that helped drive most of the state’s population growth, these processes are critical. A failure to draw maps that unite our communities could leave us shortchanged and underrepresented for at least 10 years. The proposed maps divide our communities and, in some instances, pit minorities against each other.

The reapportionment and redistricting process –which adjusts lawmakers’ districts according to population changes- has been an inordinately confusing process with plenty of backroom machinations that has left most everyone either alienated or disappointed.

Over the last year, New Yorkers saw the legislative redistricting task force –controlled by Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans- procrastinate and bend backwards to protect incumbents. They failed to create fair state maps and couldn’t reach an agreement on a congressional map.

Now, with primaries only a few months away and the clock ticking, legislators are rushing to approve self-interested maps with the excuse that there is no time to draw better ones. We have been led to believe that the best outcome is to wait for a better process in 2020. This is after many New Yorkers –including an impressive movement of Latinos- have spent time and resources advocating for lines that help them improve their representation.

This and next week are critical. At the state level, legislators are supposed to vote on new maps today, after a judge asked them to submit updated ones. However, if recent practice is an indicator, it seems that politicians will draw lines for themselves. In that case, Governor Cuomo must use his veto power, as he promised.

Technically, the Legislature and Cuomo have until tomorrow night to present a congressional map. The final lines must be finalized by March 20, when petitioning for Congressional candidates is set to start.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate majority leader Dean Skelos still have time to show their commitment to Latinos and minorities in New York. Approve plans that truly reflect the state’s demographic composition, increase our representation, and expand our democracy.

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