“Voters know a con when they smell one”, stated reporter Bill Hammond of the New York Daily News as the reason why New York has such a dismal voter turn out rate. Hammond was writing about a report titled Reshaping New York: Ending the Rigged Process of Partisan Gerrymandering with an Impartial and Independent Redistricting Process. Citizens Union an independent non-partisan civic organization prepared the report, which documents how elections in New York are rigged and typically non-competitive due to district lines drawn to protect incumbent legislators.
While 184 out of 212 New York State legislator’s co-sponsored or pledged to support forming an independent commission to draw legislative district lines, no such legislation has been passed this year.
As the Citizen Union Report states:
Competition at the Polls Is Historically Low
- The re-election rate for incumbent state legislators from 2002 to 2010 was 96 percent.
- Between 1968 and 2010, competition in New York State legislative general election contests diminished greatly, with the average margin of victory increasing from 33 percent to 51 percent.
The Number of Uncontested Elections Has Incresed, Leaving Voters Few Choices at the Polls
- The number of uncontested state general election legislative races (in which there is no opponent or major party challenger) increased from 1 percent in 1968 to 19 percent of all seats in 2010.
- New York had the fourth worst voter turnout in the nation in 2010, with only 34.9 percent of eligible voters voting for their governor, the state’s highest office, likely in part due to the lack of real choices at the polls.
Citizen Union and other public interest organizations such as Common Cause, and the New York Public Interest Research Group, support the adoption of legislation to have redistricting done by an independent commission and not legislators themselves. Governor Cuomo has threatened to veto any redistricting proposals not done by an independent commission.
What do you think about the Citizen Union report and the idea of an independent redistricting commission?