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The Assembly Minority Conference

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay Calls for Pushback Against Gerrymandering Power Grab

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski) issued a letter to good-government groups calling for resistance to legislative majority members’ plan to subvert the will of voters and undo the state’s upcoming legislative redistricting process. A full copy of the letter is available here.

In 2014, after receiving the Legislature’s overwhelming approval, millions of New Yorkers voted in favor of a Constitutional Amendment that set equitable guidelines for the 2022 redistricting effort. The public referendum ensured reasonable, fair representation by all parties during the process by which legislative lines and districts are established. Earlier this week, Assembly Majority Conference voted to scrap that plan in favor of a new one that would eliminate Minority Conference input.

“As New York State’s leading advocates for transparent, equitable, and honest government, I’m sure you appreciate the significance of this effort. Determining new legislative district lines and maps will have far-reaching impacts on state and federal elections for at least a decade,” reads the letter. “While some of your organizations have expressed well-founded opposition to the legislation, I hope all good-government groups will do their part in educating the public about the flawed process and priorities that resulted in the upcoming referendum.”

Frustratingly, many of the same legislators who previously supported the original amendment flip-flopped on their own measure even before the new redistricting process could begin. This move flies in the face of independence, equity and the voice of New York’s voters, and it is clearly motivated by nothing more than simple political self-preservation.

“This is as blatant a power grab as they make,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, the Minority Conference appointee to the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR). “The process they are advocating does not require a single vote from any member nor appointee of the Assembly or Senate Minority Conferences. To that end, it aims to reduce the threshold for the new plan to be approved at both the commission level and the legislative level. I am calling on good-government groups to use their substantial influence to push back on this inappropriate political maneuvering.”

In the November 2014 General Election, the voters of New York state approved Proposal Number One, an amendment revising the state’s redistricting procedure. Prior to being placed on the ballot, the proposal overwhelmingly passed two separately elected Legislatures in 2012 and 2013. The next redistricting process will take place in 2022.