Reapportionment & Redistricting

What is Redistricting?

It is a process in which legislative districts are altered to reflex changes in population.

This takes place every 10 years in New York State. The Legislative seats in Congress (U.S. House of Representatives), State Senate, State Assembly, County Legislative Districts and some local municipalities are altered so that each area represents an approximately equal number of people. These new districts are typically in place by the first election after the United States Census Bureau {} completes the full National count of people residing in the United States. Last count was in 2010 and a current count is taking place in 2020.

So, in 2022, most of the Federal, State and local legislative districts in Oswego County will be completely different from the borders as they are in 2020.

When the count is completed, New York State Officials receive the Census Data, work then immediately begins in Albany, on re-drawing the lines for Congressional seats along with its Bi-Cameral State Legislative Districts. This power used to rest with the majority parties in the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly. The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research & Reapportionment {} created in 1978, assist the State Legislature with this process. Through the decades, that system has led to new districts that were likely to improve the chances of the majority parties in Albany, increasing their conference numbers.

After each house completes its own lines, they usually arrive at an agreement regarding the lines for Congress. In 2012, that did not happen. Due to the fact that New York State’s population didn’t grow as fast as some other States, they lost 2 seats in Congress. New York State’s Congressional delegation shrank from 29 seats to 27. The Assembly and State Senate Majorities couldn’t come to an agreement in a timely manner over how to re-configure these lines. So a judge finished the process for them. Oswego County, for only the 2nd time in its history, was divided into 2 separate districts for the House of Representatives.

As a result of the Redistricting Agreement struck by Governor Cuomo and Legislative leaders in 2012, a Non Partisan Redistricting Commission not made up of State Legislators will draw the State and Congressional lines next time around. This should be in place to change the Federal & State District borders in 2022.

Throughout the country for the past 2 centuries, there has been widespread abuse of the power of redistricting to disenfranchise certain groups of group of people, mainly along ethnic and racial lines. Until recently, communities with large a number of minorities used to have to get clearance from the Department of Justice, before the alterations of new legislative district lines became finalized. That all changed as a result of a Supreme Court Decision in 2013.

Also, until the 1960’s, there were many Federal and State Legislative seats that were not equal in population size. This was the case in New York State and other parts of the country. Emphasis use to be mainly along geographic concerns instead of total number of people. A series of US Supreme Court Decisions forced New York and other states in the country to compile districts that are more similar in size.

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