New York voters file suit against LATFOR to expedite redistricting process
by Leah Sakala, November 21, 2011
New Yorkers have had enough of the legislature’s stalling to fully implement last year’s law that ended prison-based gerrymandering in New York. Last week, six New York voters filed a lawsuit against the state for failing to move forward with the redistricting process, arguing that a federal judge should take over.
In the suit, Favors v. Cuomo, the plaintiffs point out that one of the biggest obstacles to completing fair redistricting in New York is the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting and Reapportionment’s (LATFOR) failure to produce and release redistricting data in which incarcerated people are reallocated to their home addresses. Not only does state law require LATFOR to produce this data, but the reallocation is a critical step to ensuring that New York redistricting is consistent with the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote.”
But LATFOR already has the home address data provided by the Department of Correctional Services, and the Task Force has publicly agreed that it will fully comply with the reallocation law. And the clock is ticking—redistricting needs to be completed in enough time to prepare for the 2012 primary.
So whats the problem? The Task Force members say that they can’t agree on which reallocation software to use. It’s that simple.
It is impossible for anyone, legislator and concerned citizen alike, to have a meaningful conversation about specific redistricting proposals without first having the underlying redistricting data that LATFOR is responsible for providing. Furthermore, many county and municipal governments are currently undergoing redistricting in order to meet their own redistricting deadlines, and LATFOR’s inaction is denying these local governments the option to draw their districts based on the reallocated data. It’s unfortunate that LATFOR’s internal “legislative stalemate” is posing such a threat to the wellbeing of New York’s political landscape for the next decade.