2010-05-22

NY S7881

In short: NY S7881 redistricting reform enshrines the Two Parties, but that doesn't matter because it has solidly designed criteria for the map itself. I think I like it.

My section by section interpretation:
S 1. Make a commission. The Two Parties each get 4 legislator seats, those 8 select 4 more ombudspeople to fill out the panel. They have until March 2012 (and *2 after that) to finish the maps.

S 2.a
10% population spread between least and greatest district! I have that easily. But (and here's an odd attempt at writing math in legalese):

"For any contiguous group of senate or assembly districts, the percentage of the total number of such districts contained within such group, and the percentage of the total population of the state contained within such group, both expressed as two-digit numbers followed by two-digit decimals, shall not differ by an amount greater than 0.50."

I think that unpacks to:
For any (contiguous) group of K districts:
abs((K / total districts) - (population of K districts / total population)) <= 0.0050


I think this implies that actually no district can have more than 0.5% variance off the mean, and it implies a combinatoric mess to check in the end.

And adjacent districts can't vary by more than 2% between them, but I still think the middle requirement will wind up being the tightest one.

2.b …and Congress too.
2.c Contiguity.
2.d No prison gerrymandering!
2.e Affirmative Action gerrymandering.
2.f Prioritized list of nice things to have. Whole counties, county subdivisions, towns. Compactness (three vague definitions). "communities defined by actual shared interests". Not pitting incumbents against each other (but everything else outweighs this, so it'll probably never come up).

The raw bill text of NY S7881 redistricting reform:
Section 1. Establishment and alteration of senate, assembly and congressional districts.
a. There shall be a legislative advisory commission on redistricting and demographic research (the "commission") to draw senate, assembly and congressional districts, so that all the people of New York may be fairly represented. The temporary president of the senate, minority leader of the senate, speaker of the assembly, and minority leader of the assembly shall each appoint two legislator members from their party conference, with one appointee from each majority designated as co-chair. The eight legislator members shall select and appoint four public members by a vote of at least six of the eight legislator members. A majority vote, if the legislators divide along party lines, would then require agreement of at least three of the four non-legislator members. No person shall be a non-legislator member of the commission who is not a registered voter in the state of New York, and who has not been, at the time of appointment, a resident of the state of New York for five years. No member of the senate or assembly, no member of congress, and no person holding judicial office, shall be a non-legislator member of the commission. Vacancies shall be filled by the original appointing legislative authority.
b. The senate, assembly, and congressional districts shall be developed by a vote of at least seven members of the commission. The plans of senate, assembly, and congressional districts developed by the commission shall be submitted to the legislature for enactment. The commission shall establish the senate and assembly districts no later than the last day of January of the second year following the year in which the federal decennial census is taken. The commission shall issue a report explaining how the districts comply with the requirements of section two of this act. Congressional districts shall be enacted into law no later than the last day of March of the second year following the year in which the federal decennial census is taken. The commission shall issue a report explaining how the districts comply with the requirements of section two of this act. Members of the commission shall provide the legislature with reports on multiple plans if the commission fails to achieve a majority vote on either the senate and assembly plan or the congressional plan. The commission shall meet to make adjustments to plans for congressional, assembly and senate districts should the legislature fail to adopt the commission's plan and return such recommendations to the legislature. The commission's revised plans shall be submitted to the legislature for consideration. Districting plans enacted into law shall become effective for the next ensuing general election of senators, assembly members, and members of congress. The senate, assembly and congressional districts shall remain unaltered until after the subsequent federal decennial census, except that, if an alteration of such districts shall be ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, or if such districts shall be prevented from taking effect pursuant to this article or to any provision of the constitution and laws of the United States, the commission shall meet to recommend alter actions necessary to the legislature to provide a remedy. All votes of the commission shall be taken at public meetings, and the commission shall cause transcripts of all meetings and hearings, including all testimony submitted in writing, to be made publicly available. The commission shall promote informed public understanding of, and participation in, the process of redistricting, by such means as providing information to the public, holding hearings and adequate public comment periods before and after plans are finalized, and encouraging submission of proposals.
c. The legislature shall make necessary appropriations for the expenses of the commission, provide for compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the members and staff of the commission, assign to the commission any additional duties that the legislature may deem necessary to the performance of the duties stipulated in this act, and require other agencies and officials of the state of New York and its political subdivisions to provide such information and assistance as the commission may require to perform its duties.
d. Subject to such reasonable regulations as the legislature shall enact, the commission shall, with the approval of the temporary president of the senate, minority leader of the senate, the speaker of the assembly and the minority leader of the assembly as may be necessary to perform its duties, hire staff, enter into contracts, conduct research, hold hearings, and communicate with the public; shall assemble and maintain such geographic, demographic, election, and voter registration data as may be necessary for the analysis and evaluation of proposed and established plans of senate, assembly, and congressional districts, including, but not limited to, the compliance of such plans with the provisions of this act and with the constitution and laws of the United States; and shall cause all such data, and all expert reports, results of any other research conducted under a contract entered into by the commission, and proposals for districts submitted by the public, to be made publicly available.

S 2. Criteria to be followed.
a. All districts of a house of the legislature shall be as nearly equal in population as is practical, except as necessary to satisfy the requirements of subdivisions c, e and f of this section, but the difference in population between the most and least populous senate districts shall not exceed ten percent of the mean population of all senate districts, and the difference in population between the most and least populous assembly districts shall not exceed ten percent of the mean population of all assembly districts. For any contiguous group of senate or assembly districts, the percentage of the total number of such districts contained within such group, and the percentage of the total population of the state contained within such group, both expressed as two-digit numbers followed by two-digit decimals, shall not differ by an amount greater than 0.50. The populations of any two senate or assembly districts adjoining within a county subdivision, or, in New York city, within a county, shall not differ by an amount greater than two percent of the mean population of such two districts.
b. All congressional districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable.
c. Each district shall consist of contiguous territory; no district shall consist of parts entirely separated by the territory of another district of the same body, whether such territory be land or water, populated or unpopulated. A populated census block shall not be divided by a district boundary, unless it can be determined that the populated part of such block is within a single district.
d. The whole number of persons reported in the federal decennial census shall be the basis for determining populations for the purposes of this article, except that, for the purpose of determining the populations of senate and assembly districts, no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a residence by reason of conviction and incarceration in a federal or state correctional facility.
e. Senate, assembly, or congressional districts shall not be established that result in a denial to members of racial and linguistic minority groups of an equal opportunity with other citizens to participate in the political process and to elect the representatives of their choice. The principles stated in subdivision f of this section shall be used to create districts that will afford fair representation to the members of those racial and linguistic minority groups who are sufficiently numerous and whose residential patterns afford the opportunity of creating districts in which they will be able to elect representatives of their choice.
f. Subject and subsidiary to the requirements of subdivisions a, b, c, d and e of this section, the following principles shall be followed in the creation of senate, assembly, and congressional districts. A principle with a lower number shall have precedence over a principle with a higher number.
i. To the extent possible, counties shall not be divided in the formation of districts, except to create districts wholly within a county pursuant to state law.
ii. Where possible, county subdivisions shall not be divided in the formation of districts, except to create districts wholly within a county subdivision. For the purposes of this article, a county subdivision shall be a city (except for a city with a population of one million or more), a town, or an Indian reservation whose territory is exclusive of the territory of any city or town. To the extent possible, county subdivisions with larger populations shall be divided in preference to divi sion of those with smaller populations.
iii. If a town must be divided, where possible, incorporated villages shall not be divided.
iv. Senate, assembly, and congressional districts shall be as compact in form as is possible. Plans of senate, assembly, or congressional districts shall be compared, using average numerical measures, for each such plan, of: (A) geographic dispersion, the degree to which the territory of districts is either tightly packed or widely spread out; (B) the relation of the perimeter lengths to the areas of districts; and (C) the dispersion of the populations of districts; but no measure shall be employed that is scale-sensitive, according different weight to the compactness of districts in rural, as compared with urban areas, or yielding different measures for identically shaped districts that differ only in absolute size.
v. To the extent possible, a senate, assembly, or congressional district shall unite communities defined by actual shared interests, taking account of geographic, social, economic, and other factors that indicate commonality of interest, and districts shall be formed so as to promote the orderly and efficient administration of elections.
vi. To the extent possible, the residences of two or more incumbent members of the same body shall not be placed in the same district of such body, and the residences of incumbent legislators and members of congress shall be included in the district with the largest number of their existing constituents, but the requirements of subdivisions a, b, c, d and e of this section, and of paragraphs i, ii, iii, iv and v of this subdivision, shall always take precedence over, and shall never be subordinated to, the requirements of this paragraph or the preservation of the cores of existing districts.

S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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