Republicans Plan to Add Extra State Senate District

In an attempt to preserve their narrow majority in the state Senate, Republicans have proposed creating a new district, expanding the number of senators to 63.

The proposal was included in redistricting maps released Jan. 26 by the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment. Democrats, who hold a 96-49 majority in the Assembly, drew up the proposed lines for its 150 districts. Republicans, who have a 32-29 majority in the Senate, did the map for the upper house.  

“As expected, these lines are a blatantly partisan effort to allow majority legislators to pick their own voters,” state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said in a statement. “The Senate Republican map is a perfect example of the kind of partisan
dysfunction and Albany power grabs that Governor Cuomo campaigned against.”

Cuomo, who has urged that redistricting be handled by an independent commission and threatened to veto plans he considers gerrymanders, told the New York Times that “I want to let the process play out.”

Krueger accused the Senate plan of intensifying the under-representation of New York City. “Fifty Senate districts are more than 3 percent larger or smaller than the average population size,” she said. “Even in the heavily gerrymandered redistricting done in 2002, only 19 out of 62 districts exceeded a 3 percent threshold.”

Every district north of Westchester County has fewer voters than average, she noted, while districts in the city have slightly more people. If all Senate districts had equal population, the New York World calculated, the city and Westchester would have 30 Senate seats instead of 29 (now 26-2 Democratic, with one vacant after Brooklyn Democrat Carl Kruger’s resignation), and upstate would have 23 instead of 24 (now 21-3 Republican). The 63-district plan would give upstate 25 seats. 

The plans cannot be approved until after nine public hearings are held, with the last one scheduled for Feb. 16 in Buffalo.