Friday, April 18, 2014
Frequently Asked Questions

What is redistricting?
The U.S. Constitution requires that congressional and state legislative district boundaries be redrawn every ten years, reflecting population shifts detected by the Federal census. This process, referred to as "redistricting", is undertaken by the state Legislature. In New York State, the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment analyzes the Census Bureau population figures used in the redistricting plan.

What is reapportionment?
Reapportionment is the redividing of a given number of seats in a legislative body among smaller geographical units. For example, the 435 seats in Congress must be allocated to reflect a state's proportion of the national population. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau reports that New York's population grew by 5.5 percent between 1990 and 2000, while the national population grew by 13.2 percent. As a result, the state will lose 2 seats in Congress.

What other requirements must the legislature follow?
The State Constitution requires 150 Assembly districts and contains a formula for the determination of the number of Senate districts. Based on the formula and analysis of the 2010 census data, the size of the Senate will increase by 1 seat to 63 (Click here to view technical determination of the size of the Senate). The average number of people represented by these legislators will increase by about 2,579 and 1,284, respectively (to 129,089 per Assembly district and 307,356 per Senate district), due to the state's population gain. Each of New York's 27 Congressional districts will contain 717,707 people (an increase of 63,346). All districts must contain essentially the same number of people to preserve the principle of one person, one vote. Also, the federal Voting Rights Act requires that new boundaries be drawn in a manner which provides minority communities with opportunities to elect representatives of their choice.

Who must approve the plan?
The redistricting plan must be approved by the state Legislature and the Governor. In addition, 3 counties of New York City (Bronx, Kings, and New York) require that the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia review and approve the plan for compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

When will it take effect?
The new boundaries for congressional and state Assembly and Senate districts will be in effect for the 2012 elections.

Why is the process important to me, and to my community?
It will determine how every citizen and community will be represented at the state and federal levels of government for the next ten years. It will also determine whether New York's diverse communities will have sufficient political strength to elect candidates of their choice. At a time when so many public policy decisions affect the quality of our daily lives, your right to fair and effective representation is crucial.

How can I get involved?
The Task Force has, and will again, hold a series of public hearings across the state to get input from the general public. If you did not have the opportunity to attend one of their hearings, or may not be able to attend future hearings, there is still time to submit written testimony. For more information, contact the Task Force.

How can I get redistricting data?
The need for public access to redistricting data was stated time and time again at the Task Force hearings. In response, the Task Force unanimously adopted a public access policy to encourage full and meaningful public participation in the redistricting process.

NYS Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment
250 Broadway — Suite 2100
New York, NY 10007