Due to this decade’s U.S. Census numbers, the New York City Council, like every legislative body the country, was Constitutionally required to adjust its boundaries to reflect population shifts within its jurisdiction. This afternoon, the city’s Districting Commission released its second, and likely final, proposal for the new lines.
Software engineer and illustrator Chris Howard created this map of the presidential election results adjusted by population density to produce a map that shows a far different picture of the country than we normally see in the simple red and blue electoral map. Mr. Howard posted his map on Facebook this weekend with a note explaining that “most of the country is some shade of purple, a varied blend of Democrat blue and Republican.”
“America really looks like this,” wrote Mr. Howard. “What really stands out is how red the nation seems to be when you do not take the voting population into account; when you do so many of those vast red mid-west blocks fade into pale pink and lavender (very low population).”
After strangely delaying releasing what the actual State Legislative maps will look like under their latest proposal, Albany’s redistricting task force post finally released the maps this evening.
Like the State Senate plan that the Senate Democrats released earlier today, the State Assembly plan appears to change very little from the draft maps. The official release on the State Government website, however, provides additional detail.
Albany released the text of the new State Legislative lines last night, but not the maps, resulting in limited clarity for what the new maps will look like. At first glance at the 20,000 word document, it seems a partisan gerrymander remains in place.
However, Albany also released a legible redistricting document last night, the constitutional amendment to permanently reform the process in the future in 2022. The proposed amendment appears designed to lock in this year’s set of maps rather than create any sort of truly independent commission. “The commission shall consider the maintenance of cores of existing districts, of pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, and towns, and communities of interest,” the bill reads.
Over the last 48 hours, New York’s media, including The Politicker, has been breathlessly providing wall-to-wall coverage of the Senate Republicans’ and Assembly Democrats’ redistricting proposals, which were finally released around midnight last night. Candidates have been reacting strongly as well. One boldly declared a path to victory in last night’s maps, while another amazingly announced his intentions to buy a house in the new district.
However, the maps everyone is reacting to are not likely to relate at all to where the ultimate lines will fall.
First of all, even if the maps had any significant legal weight, it would be impossible to predict how the courts would resolve two opposing proposals.
Secondly, and more importantly, the maps have very little legal influence. One redistricting expert told The Politicker the maps are the equivalent of a “John Q. Public” map that literally anyone can submit to the court.