March 25, 2022

New York Voting Rights Consortium Endorses the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act

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646-549-1130 / idawson@clsj.org

Today, the New York Voting Rights Consortium, a non-partisan group of civil rights organizations, reiterated its support for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York (NYVRA). The consortium, which includes the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) at Medgar Evers College, urges the New York State Legislature to pass the NYVRA as soon as possible, as its protections are more critical now than ever, both for New York and for the nation. Yesterday, February 21st, would have been Congressman Lewis’s 82nd birthday, and we encourage New York’s elected leaders to honor his legacy by safeguarding the “precious, almost sacred” right to vote.

As Congress struggles to pass federal legislation to enact a new preclearance mechanism, it is essential that policymakers in Albany re-create a preclearance system for jurisdictions in New York, where the risk of discrimination against voters of color remains high. By requiring those jurisdictions to obtain approval from the state attorney general’s office or a court before they change any voting procedures, the NYVRA will address this urgent threat to the rights of New York’s citizens. And it will position New York as a national leader in protecting the right to vote.

“This act is a critical piece of legislation that, for New York residents, will restore many of the former federal voter protections that were significantly weakened by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. “In particular, the reintroduction of preclearance will help ensure that voters of color in New York have equal access to the ballot box—and that they are safeguarded from voter suppression tactics. In the strongest terms, we urge state lawmakers to make this bill a top priority this session.”

“The New York State Voting Rights Act will protect New Yorkers of African descent and other people of color from voter discrimination fueled by increasingly restrictive and onerous laws that chip away at minority suffrage,” says Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. “This critical legislation seeks to create a New York State version of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and will restore many of the VRA protections that were gutted by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby vs. Holder. These protections will allow our communities to engage in American democracy more freely by casting ballots to determine its future at every level. For more than 30 years, CLSJ has fought to protect and advance voting rights for New Yorkers of African descent, and we are excited to see our state elected officials continue in this fight for justice.”

“Latinos in New York account for more than two million eligible voters statewide – the largest nonwhite voting bloc in the state. LatinoJustice PRLDEF strongly supports the New York State Voting Rights Act, which provides proactive protections to ensure that the fundamental right to vote is available to Latino and other minority voters. The bill provisions requiring assistance for language-minority voters in any electoral jurisdictions where more than two percent of citizens (or 4,000 registrants) of voting age are part of a single-language minority group will help ensure that Spanish-speaking New Yorkers are able to exercise their right to vote without facing insurmountable language barriers,” said Lourdes Rosado, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“Asian Americans have experienced incredible growth in New York state much like the rest of the country, yet our share of political power underwhelms our share of the population. This underrepresentation is a direct result of the historically discriminatory policies designed to suppress our vote and ability to fully engage in the democratic process. Despite the protections of the federal Voting Rights Act, Asian Americans and communities of color have had to turn to ‘good trouble’ to fight for our fair share. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York is vital to ensure New York’s halls of power truly reflect the will of its vibrant and diverse electorate,” said Jerry Vattamala, Director of the Democracy Program at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Certain jurisdictions in New York State have a long history of discriminating against voters of color through suppressive election laws and policies. These have included voter purges in which predominantly Latinx and Asian American people were removed from the state’s voter rolls, congressional redistricting plans that discriminated against communities of color by making it more difficult for them to elect their preferred candidates, and the frequent use of at-large elections, which often prevent voters of color from electing any candidates of choice if they constitute a minority of their jurisdiction’s population.

Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) required some of those jurisdictions, along with all or part of 14 additional states, to submit any voting-related changes for preclearance to a federal court or the attorney general to determine whether they were discriminatory. This preclearance mechanism was considered the “heart” of the Voting Rights Act. In the devastating 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, the Supreme Court essentially immobilized Section 5.

In addition to restoring preclearance, the proposed law—sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Zellnor Myrie as S.1046A, and in the Assembly by Assemblymember Latrice Walker and others as A.6678A—strengthens other voter protections, making it easier to address instances of vote dilution and voter suppression, intimidation, or interference. It also enhances language-access protections and increases public access to data necessary for voting rights enforcement, election protection, and transparent policymaking by public officials.

The consortium strongly supports this legislation and any other efforts that remove burdens for New York residents—including the more than three million registered voters in New York who identify as Black, Latino, or Asian—to participate in the electoral process and exercise their constitutional rights.

 

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About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College
CLSJ’s mission is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.

Follow CLSJ on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

About LDF

Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. 

About LatinoJustice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org

 About AALDEF

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence.

January 29, 2022

Amid Federal Inaction, New York Democrats Look to Advance State Voting Rights Act

| NY Senate

State Senator Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn (photo: NY Senate)


With the failure of federal voting rights legislation this month in the U.S. Senate, advocates in New York are redoubling a push to pass a sweeping state bill that would shore up voting protections for historically disenfranchised groups.

Legislators introduced the John R. Lewis New York State Voting Rights Act in 2020 to fill at the state level some of the holes left in the federal Voting Rights Act after successive defangings by the U.S. Supreme Court in the past decade. The bill would enshrine a range of protections against voter dilution, require language access, and give the State Attorney General preclearance authority over potentially-discriminatory voting policy changes. But it has not yet advanced in either house of the Legislature.

Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, supported the concept in her State of the State agenda earlier this month but did not include it in her Executive Budget last week, setting the stage for negotiations over the next several months and tempering optimism about the bill’s prospects for passage in the current legislative session, which runs until June. That same month, New Yorkers will vote in state and federal primaries.

In a statement last week, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, who chairs his chamber’s elections committee and sponsors the bill, called the failure in Washington “an insult to all Americans, especially to Black and Brown voters who are most often targeted by discriminatory and racist state laws.”

“States must now urgently move to protect and expand voting rights, and New York can lead the way,” Myrie said in a statement. “My bill, the John R. Lewis New York State Voting Rights Act, would enact the strongest voter protections in the country.”

“This legislation is exactly what is needed for this time,” said Lurie Daniel Favors, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. “[It] really does set a model for how we have to return to the states in order to secure protections that the federal government is unable to provide.”

U.S. Senate Democrats this past week fell short in an effort to move toward advancing major voting legislation – the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act — that would set ballot access standards, restore parts of the federal Voting Rights Act, and scale back Republican-led voting restrictions in many states. Before and after the (anticipated) defeat in Washington, New York lawmakers positioned themselves to take up the voting rights mantle locally, part of a three-year wave of progressive changes to the state election law since Democrats took control of both houses of the Legislature in 2019.

The New York bill would make it easier to sue the state and local governments for violating the voting rights of racial, ethnic, and language minority groups. It also contains language access requirements, protections against voter intimidation and deception, and would require the state to create a database of voting and election information to help the public track potential rights violations. Among its most significant measures, the bill would give the State Attorney General “preclearance” authority over elections changes in areas with a history of discrimination – an instrument that covered the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan before it was stripped out of the federal VRA by the Supreme Court in 2013.

That could include anything from the drawing of district maps to the placement of poll sites to what interpretation assistance is offered. California and Washington also have state-level voting rights acts, but New York’s would be the first with a preclearance provision.

“Having preclearance on the state level and putting this in the New York State Attorney General’s office puts the burden on the local government, the state government, and the board of elections to show that the changes they are making will not have a significant impact on marginalized groups,” said L. Joy Williams, president of the Brooklyn NAACP.

At a Martin Luther King Day event hosted by National Action Network in Manhattan, Hochul called voter suppression an “insidious virus.” In her State of the State policy book, the governor promised to advance “a state-level voting rights act” that roughly aligned with the provisions of the New York State Voting Rights Act, carried by Myrie and Assembly Member Latrice Walker, who like Myrie is a Brooklyn Democrat and elections committee chair.

“Practices that suppress voter turnout can still be found in our elections, and the legacy of voter suppression can be seen in the persistent gap between white and non-white New York voter participation,” reads Hochul’s State of the State policy book.

In the 2020 general election in New York, 63% of Black citizens of voting age voted, well below the 69% of white eligible voters, according to Census data cited by the governor. The turnout rate among eligible Latino voters was 55% and 52% among eligible Asians voters. Civil rights advocates and reformers say the problems can be even worse in local elections, like for school boards, water and sewer districts, and village elections.

“What we have seen unfortunately in some of those elections is that minority voters rarely get to elect representatives that look like them,” Myrie told Gotham Gazette. “Those [New York] districts can sometimes mirror the worst gerrymandering problems that we see on the national level.”

When Hochul released her Executive Budget, advocates who had applauded her State of the State nod to voting rights were surprised to see the Voting Rights Act left out, despite the sizable funding it would require and the fact that she wrote many other policy priorities into bill language for the budget documents. The governor’s office would not say whether Hochul supports the current bill or if there are potential concerns about it.

“It’s unclear to me why it was dropped from the Executive Budget but I don’t take it to signal the governor’s lack of support or that there is some other nefarious reason,” Myrie said. “I think there’s a whole universe of reasons why that may have happened. We’ll continue to talk with the governor’s office to ascertain what that was.”

“There is absolutely no reasonable explanation for why it wouldn’t be [in the Executive Budget],” said Daniel Favors. “We have a legacy of unfunded mandates in this state that make voter protection extraordinarily difficult.”

The fiscal implications of the Myrie-Walker bill are significant. Under the bill the state would be responsible for the cost of building a comprehensive election database and attorney’s fees in successful voting rights cases. The additional staffing in the Attorney General’s Office could be significant by itself. Between 1998 and 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice employed between 31 and 45 attorneys in its voting section working on preclearance submissions.

“The bill will require resources, there’s no doubt about that. The Attorney General’s Office has never done this before,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, a voting rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. “A preclearance process is not helpful if there is no one there to do the preclearing.”

[Read the rest of this article.]

Amid Federal Inaction, New York Democrats Look to Advance State Voting Rights Act

Read more by this writer.

January 27, 2022

Op Ed: Time for a New Approach to Redistricting: Embrace the Unity Maps

By Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.

Daily News Op Ed | Jan 26, 2022 at 5:00 am

(PDF Version: Op Ed – Time for a New Approach to Redistricting: Embrace the Unity Maps – NY Daily News)

After the breakdown of the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), the Democratic-dominated state Legislature is about to draw its own maps. While their maps will most likely strengthen that party’s hold on the state Assembly and Senate and U.S. Congress in our state, the question remains whether or not they will also reflect the electoral strength of diverse New York communities and if they will protect those groups that are protected by the Voting Rights Act.

It doesn’t need to be this way. The Legislature can and should pass maps drawn by a coalition of nonprofits that are intended to keep communities together and maximize their democratic participation rights. Those maps, the Unity Maps, should be the basis for redistricting.

The problem began on Jan. 3, when the IRC submitted dueling Republican and Democratic versions of redistricting maps for the state Senate, Assembly and Congress. Those maps failed to uphold the protections afforded to Black, Latino and Asian voters under the Voting Rights Act and needlessly diluted voting power in minority communities.

Thankfully, the Senate and Assembly rejected the IRC’s plans outright. On Monday, the IRC publicly announced that the commission won’t complete a revised set of maps. Now that drawing new district lines falls to the Legislature, the Unity Maps are the best way forward.

The redistricting process is one of the most important steps in our democracy. The way that district lines are drawn can either strengthen or diminish the voting power of entire communities. For decades, diverse “communities of interest” — groups of people with common policy concerns — suffered the harm caused by poorly drawn districts. Communities of interest living in diverse neighborhoods bore the brunt of biased and politically stilted redistricting, leading to generations of poverty, underfunded schools, libraries, hospitals, transportation options, affordable housing, economic divestment and more. During the height of the pandemic, community health centers in unfairly drawn districts were overrun because of chronic underfunding and lack of prioritization.

The Unity Map Coalition, which includes the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and LatinoJustice PRLDEF, was formed in the last redistricting cycle to fight against redistricting processes that far too often diminish the voting strength diverse communities of interest. Our maps are based on Census data and informed by the city’s communities of interest. They provide accurate reflections of demographic changes in our city’s population and exclude partisan political calculations from the redistricting process.

The coalition drew and submitted maps that preserve communities of interest and comply with the U.S. and New York State Constitutions and the Voting Rights Act — unlike either set of the maps submitted by the IRC, and almost certainly unlike the maps sure to be approved by the Assembly and Senate.

For example, the Plan B Senate Map, proposed by Republicans, reduced the number of majority-minority New York City state Senate districts — despite the fact that the city’s population growth has been driven exclusively by communities of color.

The Democratic maps were similarly flawed. The Plan A Assembly map failed to respect historic neighborhood lines in communities like Bedford-Stuyvesant, North Crown Heights and Ocean Hill. The Plan A Senate map failed to preserve communities of interest for people of African descent in areas like Southeast Queens, Crown Heights, Flatbush and East Flatbush.

In the Plan A congressional map, the congressional districts that contain large communities of interest of people of African descent, unnecessarily diluted Black voting strength. Similar disparities also exist for Senate and Assembly districts under Plan A.

The Unity Maps respect the historic lines that keep neighborhoods intact, preserve communities of interest and fulfill the Voting Rights Act mandates. They ensure the city’s diverse communities receive their fair share of voting power and electoral representation. By mapping for demographic growth, preserving communities and unifying communities of interest that were historically divided, the Unity Maps avoid the zero-sum political process which pits diverse communities against one another.

By failing to produce maps to send to the Legislature for review, the IRC shifted the responsibility for drawing new district lines to the Senate and Assembly. The Unity Maps set the standard for an equitable outcome. They are the bar beneath which there can be no slippage.

Daniel Favors is executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, a member of the Unity Maps Coalition.

 

January 13, 2022

Brooklyn Neighborhood at the Center of Redistricting Battle

The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission has been told to go back to the drawing board after failing to agree on how to divide districts including, Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, in its proposed electoral maps.
January 11, 2022

Press Statement: Unity Coalition Applauds NYS Legislature’s Rejection of IRC Plans and Calls for Full Adoption of Unity Map For NYC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS STATEMENT

January 11, 2022

Contacts:

Sarai Bejarano⏐Manager of Traditional & Digital Media⏐LJ⏐212.739.7581⏐sbejarano@latinojustice.org
Imani Dawson⏐Communications & Media⏐CLSJ⏐646.389.9520⏐ idawson@clsj.org
Stuart Sia ⏐Communications Director⏐ AALDEF⏐ 212.966.5932 ext. 203⏐ssia@aaldef.org

Unity Coalition Applauds NYS Legislature’s Rejection of IRC Plans and Calls for Full Adoption of Unity Map For NYC

NEW YORK — New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) has failed New Yorkers by proving themselves incapable of rising above partisan political squabbling to create a fair, nonpartisan redistricting plan. During New York’s inaugural redistricting cycle under the misnamed Independent Redistricting Commission (it’s not independent and its decisions aren’t binding), the Commission deadlocked along partisan political lines and failed to support a single set of legislative maps for New York State. Of great consequence to communities of color, the dueling IRC redistricting plans submitted to and rejected by the New York State Legislature yesterday don’t reflect the voting strength of New York City’s Latino, Black and Asian communities which form the backbone (and majority) of our City. While we commend the public input garnered, the lack of a single, non-partisan proposed redistricting plan that complies with the Voting Rights Act and the strictures of New York’s redistricting process is unacceptable and an abject failure.

New York needs a single unified redistricting plan which equitably benefits the interests of all New Yorkers, especially New York’s historically marginalized communities of color. New York City’s Black, Asian and Latino communities have for decades been irreparably harmed by electoral districts and voting laws that were enacted with the intent of our exclusion and the diminution of our voting power. Our communities have suffered from decades of gerrymandering  which rigged the electoral system against us — diminishing our electoral power and neglecting our communities. In New York City, our communities have been historically divided and under-resourced. For generations we’ve suffered the consequences of underperforming schools, crumbling roads and hospitals, underfunded infrastructure, gentrification, limited access to quality food and healthcare, increased toxic pollution, and a myriad of other problems.

We call on the IRC to adopt the Unity Map for New York City in its entirety. While the IRC Commissioners seek to cast blame, New Yorkers are left with a broken redistricting process. The sole bright spot of the redistricting process has been the overwhelming engagement of New Yorkers in the process and their advocacy on behalf of their communities. Throughout the redistricting process, there has been broad, sustained and unwavering support for the Unity Map from diverse stakeholders.

While the redistricting process was tied up in partisan wrangling, the Unity Map was driven by non-partisan collaboration between New York City’s preeminent Black, Asian and Latino voting and civil rights organizations. Instead of focusing on partisan advantage, our singular focus has been ensuring the City’s communities of color receive their fair proportion of voting power and electoral representation without reverting to a zero-sum political process whereby communities of color are pitted against one another. We understand that our strength lies in solidarity, recognizing and mapping for demographic growth and unification of historically divided communities of interest the Unity Map is superior to the rejected partisan IRC districting plans and should be adopted in full for New York City. The public’s steadfast support for the Unity Map must guide and inform any new districts adopted.

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS 

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About the UNITY MAP COALITION
The Coalition has been at the forefront of nonpartisan redistricting to protect communities of color for the last three decades. During the last Redistricting cycle in 2010-11, the Coalition successfully advocated for the adoption of its historic Unity Map for the 2010 Redistricting Congressional districts in NYC, the State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council. This Coalition rewrote redistricting history in NYS and serves as a model for the nation of collective advocacy and power sharing by diverse racial and cultural communities within a jurisdiction.

About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College
The mission of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.

About LatinoJustice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org.

About AALDEF

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence. To learn more about AALDEF, visit www.aaldef.org.

December 21, 2021

Divided Redistricting Commission Stalemates, Sends Dueling Lines to Legislature

By Clifford Michel, THE CITY

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The New York State Capitol Building in Albany. | Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

New York’s crucial once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional and state legislative boundaries broke down along party lines as an “independent” redistricting commission for the second time proposed two competing sets of maps.

The impasse paves the way for lawmakers in Albany to take over the process, with no pretense of bipartisanship.

The 10-member commission –– created via a constitutional amendment approved by state voters in 2014  –– was meant to wrestle control of the map-making out of the hands of politicians after civic groups and Democrats expressed dismay over what they viewed as Republican gerrymandering following the 2010 census.

The group, made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, already had failed to coalesce around one set of maps in September.

At a public meeting on Monday, both sets of appointees complained that the other side wouldn’t compromise enough to make consensus maps possible.

Via NewYork.redistrictingandyou.org
A side-by-side look at the competing maps from the redistricting commission.

Vice Chair Jack Martins, a Republican appointee, charged that Democrats stopped meeting with the GOP commissioners after Dec. 22.

Chair David Imamura, a Democratic appointee, said that Republicans never sent back counter proposals when his side asked for changes to their maps.

“It disturbs me to no end to see it end on this particular note,” said Elaine Frazier, a Democratic appointee to the commission. “We all worked very hard and I think we came so very close to agreeing with each other — we were surprised and in our surprise we pulled back from a consensus vote.”

Albany Waiting in Wings

The pressure is now on in the Democratic Party-controlled Albany legislature, which will take over the process in a high-stakes year for congressional elections.

New York is one of the few states nationally where Democrats have the power to draw district lines for Congress, as the party seeks to maintain or grow its slim four-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

A spokesperson for the State Senate Democrats told THE CITY that lawmakers would approve new lines by the mid-January deadline.

The Legislature must now vote to accept or reject one of the two proposals from the commission. If Albany rejects both, the commission has another opportunity to create new lines. If the second proposal gets voted down, then lawmakers will take over the map-making process.

“We’re in receipt of the maps and at this point we’re in the process of reviewing them and we do understand the need to act quickly,” said State Senate Majority spokesperson Mike Murphy.

Activists Annoyed

Redistricting activists who spoke to THE CITY said they were deeply frustrated that the commission didn’t create one single proposal, saying that both sets of maps failed to unite so-called communities of interest as required under the federal Voting Rights Act.

“Neither Plan A nor B are satisfactory because the commission was supposed to come up with a set of maps, not dueling maps,” said Lurie Daniel-Favors, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. “It is extremely difficult for the public to participate in a process when the public is not clear where the commission itself stands.”

A collection of 18 Asian-American community groups, known as APA VOICE Redistricting Task Force, held a press conference shortly after the commission released the new maps, slamming the commissioners for failing to unify. They urged the state Legislature to reject both maps.

Screengrab/NYS Independent Redistricting Commission/YouTube
The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission during a meeting on Sept. 15, 2021.

Asian-American activists were frustrated that neither suite of maps linked Sunset Park and Bensonhurst to create Brooklyn’s first majority-Asian State Senate district, reflecting a decade of strong population growth among Asian-American New Yorkers. They also slammed the commission for ignoring opportunities to create a majority Asian Assembly district in Queens’ Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park neighborhoods as well as in Elmhurst and Woodside.

The group and others — including Latino Justice and the Center for Law and Social Justice — are encouraging the New York State Legislative Task Force (LATFOR), which is responsible for drafting lines if the legislature rejects the commission’s proposals, to instead enact “unity maps” that a coalition of advocacy groups worked on to group Black, Latino and Asian community enclaves together.

Several groups behind the unity maps sent a letter to LATFOR members and Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday urging them to hold public hearings if the state Legislature takes over the process.

“Impacted communities should have an opportunity to comment after LATFOR draws them given the enormous importance their maps will have for the political, economic, and social empowerment for the next 10 years,” said Elizabeth OuYang, the group’s coordinator.

Candidates ‘Couldn’t Care Less’?

Several congressional candidates with contentious primary elections didn’t respond to requests for comment from THE CITY, including Rep. Carolyn Maloney and her primary challenger Rana Abdelhamid, a Google employee and community organizer.

Both the Democratic and GOP maps cut out Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods from New York’s 12th congressional district, where Maloney reportedly wanted fewer progressive voters, while adding to the Manhattan and Queens side of the district.

In the city’s lone swing district, currently covering Staten Island and nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods incumbent Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and former congressman Max Rose, who is gearing up to run for his lost seat, both said that they weren’t worried where the new congressional lines would be drawn.

In the Democratic maps, known as Plan A, the district’s Brooklyn side keeps Bay Ridge and stretches the district into Sunset Park. Plan B, the GOP map, brings the district into Bay Ridge before jutting out westward into more Republican-friendly areas like Dyker Heights and Midwood.

“Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis works hard, fights for her constituents and her office provides exceptional constituent service,” said Rob Ryan, Malliotakis’ campaign spokesperson.” Regardless of which map becomes final, she’ll win again in 2022.”

Rose also said he was unbothered by the process.

“I am running for Congress because if we’re going to tame inflation, defeat the pandemic, and get our lives back then we need elected officials who will do the right thing, no matter the cost,” Rose said in a statement. That’s what the American people want and deserve irrespective of political parties, so I couldn’t care less about what the final lines are.”

The commissioners also submitted lines for the state Senate and Assembly districts, but Democratic control in Albany is unlikely to be affected by redistricting given that Democrats enjoy a supermajority in both chambers.

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

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