Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between redistricting and reapportionment?

Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn. Reapportionment is the reassignment of representation in congressional and state legislative districts due to changes in population, reflected in the Census population data. For example, federal law outlines that there is always a total of 435 seats in the House of Representatives in Congress. As population changes across the country and within the state, the number of seats each state may increase or decrease, and that change itself is reapportionment. Redistricting is the process of drawing these new district boundaries.

What is a community of Interest?

A community of interest is a population which shares enough social and economic interests of importance that suggest said community should be included in a single district for effective and fair representation. These might include similar standards of living, shared methods and patterns of transportation, or similar economic and societal concerns. For example, the population of a rural area might have different shared interests from those living in an urban area, as might those living in an industrial area from the priorities shared by those living in a primarily agricultural area. Shared interests within a Community of Interest do not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates.

How many Congressional seats does New York have?

Currently, New York has 27 Congressional Seats. In 2022, New York will have 26. This change is dictated by data obtained by the most recent Census of 2020.

What is the Independent Redistricting Commission?

The Independent Redistricting Commission is composed of 10 members. Two are appointed by the New York State Senate Majority Leader and Temporary President, two are appointed by the New York State Senate Minority Leader, two are appointed by the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and two are appointed by the New York State Assembly Minority Leader. The final two members are then selected by these eight appointees, and neither can be enrolled as a Democrat or Republican in the past five years. Learn more about each Commissioner.

The Independent Redistricting Commission was created in 2014 by voters in New York State. On the ballot was Proposition 1, a plan to create a commission to determine redistricting after the 2020 Census was completed. The commission will hold public hearings to solicit input from communities throughout the State, and will then propose a redistricting plan for the congressional and state legislative districts. A minimum of seven Commissioners will need to vote in favor of any plan before it is submitted to the State legislature for approval.

What criteria is used to draw district lines?

When drawing district lines, the Commission has many criteria to ensure the lines are drawn fairly and ensure equal representation across the state. First among those is: to the extent practicable, drawing districts that contain as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants. For each district that deviates from this requirement, the commission shall provide a specific public explanation as to why such deviation exists. Additionally, each district shall consist of contiguous territory, and each district shall be as compact in form as practicable.

Another primary consideration of the Commission when drawing district lines, is ensuring that such district lines shall not be drawn to have the purpose of, nor should they result in the denial or abridgement of racial or language minority voting rights. This is to ensure that based on the totality of the circumstances, racial or minority language groups do not have less opportunity to participate in the political process than other members of the electorate and to elect representatives of their choice.

The commission shall consider the maintenance of cores of existing districts, of pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities, and towns, and of communities of interest.

In drawing senate districts, towns or blocks which, from their location may be included in either of two districts, shall be so placed as to make said districts most nearly equal in number of inhabitants. The requirements that senate districts not divide counties or towns, as well as the 'block-on-border' and 'town-on-border' rules, shall remain in effect.

Districts shall not be drawn to discourage competition, or for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring incumbents or other particular candidates or political parties.

What if the Commission cannot pass a plan?

In the event that the commission is unable to obtain seven votes to approve a redistricting plan on or before January first in the year ending in two or as soon as practicable thereafter, the commission shall submit to the legislature that redistricting plan and implementing legislation that garnered the highest number of votes in support of its approval by the commission with a record of the votes taken.

If the commission does not vote on any redistricting plan by the date required for submission, the commission shall submit to the legislature all plans in its possession, both completed and in draft form, and the data upon which the plans are based.