Commission fails to agree on lawmakers’ district lines

Commission fails to agree on lawmakers’ district lines

Outside temperatures might be hitting their January lows, but June’s heat and humidity aren’t too far away.

Nor are June’s political primaries — those all-important preliminary contests that determine a party’s slate for next November’s ballots. Yet the boundaries of the congressional and state legislative districts remain a mystery for would-be candidates.

That includes a measure of uncertainty for voters in the congressional contest that comprises Otsego County.

New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission met January 3 to approve new maps that would shape those districts for the next 10 years, but ended the meeting with two separate proposals that split the 10-member Commission evenly down party lines (five Democrats, five Republicans). While the two plans look to differ most widely on state Senate boundaries for Long Island and Western New York — the center of the always-pitched battle for Senate majority control — Otsego County’s congressional district also looks to vary slightly between the two plans.

The nation’s Census Bureau confirms what many Otsego County residents have long believed: people are moving out of New York more than they’re moving in.

New York as a state had the largest annual and cumulative numeric population decline, decreasing by 319,020 (1.6 percent) and 365,336 (1.8 percent), respectively.

New York’s declining population in the last year was attributed to what the Bureau calls “negative domestic migration” (-352,185) — a fancier term for “moved to a different state.”

Texas, Florida, and Arizona topped the list of states gaining the most new residents during the Bureau’s survey period, which compared state and regional populations on July 1, 2021 against July 1, 2020.
New York dropped below 20 million people in the last year, decreasing from 20,154,933 to 19,835,913. Bureau data available at press time stopped short of specifying any ‘negative migration’ from Otsego County itself, but showed an April 1, 2020 count of 58,524 against an April 1, 2010 count of 62,259.
As a result, New York loses one congressional seat in the 2022 election — potentially pitting sitting lawmakers against each other in party primaries.

The Independent Commission was supposed to remove politics from a process long controlled by the state Legislature; its failure to complete its work with a single plan puts the lines back in the Legislature’s hands. The deadlocked Commission sent its two plans to lawmakers for possible consideration, either requiring a two-thirds majority vote in both the state Senate and Assembly.

Democrats hold commanding majorities in each House, but may not be able to muster the required tally to approve either of the Commission submissions, The Commission can present new maps by February 28; should those also fail, the state Legislature will draw plans of its own.

New York voters rejected a ballot measure last November that would have altered the Independent Redistricting Commission by requiring the panel to include noncitizen residents in the state population and allow for incarcerated people to be counted at their last residence rather than their current venue of incarceration.

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