Do New York voters choose their representatives or do the elected representatives choose their voters? All too often, it seems as if the representatives have chosen their voters by drawing district lines to favor their own interests. New Yorkers want their elections to offer voters a meaningful choice in their representation. Unfortunately, the winners of New York State legislative elections are typically elected from districts that have been gerrymandered to protect incumbents and discourage competitiveness. As a result, the New York state legislature has one of the highest rates of incumbent reelection in the nation.
Reapportionment and redistricting are required after each decennial census. State legislative and United States Congressional districts will be redrawn according to the results of the recent 2010 census. Under New York State's system, the majority leaders of each legislative house draw district lines for their house, thereby allowing the leaders to manipulate districts to suit their political aims. They often choose their voters by shielding themselves from competitive races, leaving most voters with a predetermined outcome. This has helped to create a body of legislators who may be more responsive to party leaders, and not as responsive to their constituents' concerns as they should be. Thus, New York's representative democracy has been undermined because of the current redistricting process.
How does this work and how could the current system be fixed? The League of Women Voters of Cazenovia is having an informational meeting about redistricting - the issues and impacts - on at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 28 in the Community Room of the Cazenovia Public Library, 100 Albany St. Both League members and the general public are encouraged to attend, learn about this issue and discuss what should be done. Coffee and dessert will be served. We hope to see you there.
Anne Redfern is vice president of the League of Women Voters of Cazenovia.