Assemblywoman Galef and Senator Bonacic Call for First Passage of Constitutional Amendment in 2010 to Establish a Non-Partisan Apportionment Commission

February 5, 2010

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Senator John Bonacic are sponsoring legislation (A.6878 – S.2892) that will establish a non-partisan Apportionment Commission in New York State. This Commission will ensure that district lines for state and federal legislators are drawn fairly and without the purpose of favoring a particular political party, incumbent legislator or any other group.

The legislation would require that the only factor considered in the drawing of legislative districts will be the population of any given area. Political affiliations, addresses of individual persons presently in office, or any other demographic information will not be acknowledged. This will avoid the districts being drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any specific group of people. The Apportionment Commission created by this bill will divide the state into districts with an equal number of inhabitants.

The bill creates a non-partisan five-member apportionment committee, four members of which shall be appointed by the majority and minority officers of the legislature and the fifth to be selected as chairmen by these four appointees.

This bill is a constitutional amendment requiring passage by two successive legislatures and approval by the voters; it provides for a process that is far less vulnerable to politicization and exploitation. This bill also combats gerrymandering by requiring that each district be as compact as possible and barring the use of information other than that provided by the United States Census.

Assemblywoman Galef stated, “This Commission will avoid politically charged redistricting in the future, and is in the best interest of not only my constituents, but all New Yorkers. I strongly support first passage of this legislation in 2010 and again in 2011 so that the public will have the opportunity to vote on this constitutional amendment in November of 2011.”

Senator Bonacic said, "Changing the way Legislative Districts are drawn is real reform. This legislation should be taken up this year, and then again next year so it can be considered by the voters prior to the next re-districting. You cannot talk about reforming Albany without changing the way legislative districts are drawn. This legislation empowers voters and brings a fair system to re-districting. There is no reason it should not be acted on."

Redistricting of state and federal legislative lines will take place in 2012 after the U.S. Census is completed this year.