Gerrymandering a concern after Elections
– By Jeff Gallahan
The democratic election of our leaders and representatives is a pillar of our American republic. Open, secure, and fair elections are something all of us want to see continue in this country. Unfortunately, the Constitutional Amendment proposals on the back of the ballot this year are nothing but a self-enriching power grab by Albany leadership. That is why I am staunchly opposed to proposals 1, 3 and 4.
In 2014 voters in New York voted to address partisan gerrymandering by approving the creation of the Independent Redistricting Commission. The Commission is a bipartisan group set up to draw new Assembly, Senate and Congressional district lines after the census. Currently, the Commission draws and proposes new district maps that require at least a two-thirds vote by both the Senate and Assembly to be adopted.
The first ballot proposal lowers the number of votes needed to adopt the Commission’s plan. This is an affront to the will of the people because the proposal would roll back elements of the current redistricting process that were designed to ensure that redistricting is as bipartisan as possible. By lowering the number of votes needed to implement new district lines, Albany leaders will be allowed to gerrymander districts to benefit themselves, rendering the Independent Redistricting Commission obsolete.
Gerrymandering is a threat to our ability to hold meaningful and fair elections, and this proposal will undo everything voters have done to ensure that partisan political agendas do not sully our political process. It is why many groups, such as the League of Women Voters and Citizens Union, have come out against this proposal.
Ballot proposals 3 and 4 deeply concern me, as they would allow same day voter registration and no excuse mail in absentee balloting. Same day voter registration does not allow for the same proper verification of the registration that is done when someone registers before election day.
No excuse absentee voting is essentially mail in voting for all and would open the door to widespread ballot harvesting. We’ve already seen the chaos that could ensue if this is implemented statewide. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic led to heavy-use of no excuse, mail in voting. Election outcomes in races such as the 22nd Congressional District were delayed for months because of absentee ballots and challenges, leading to a judge determining the fate of the election.
Blights on the efficacy of our electoral process such as these reduce the faith people have in our elections and in our government itself. After living through some of the most challenging and uncertain times of their lives, New Yorkers deserve a system they can trust. I encourage all voters to go to the polls this year and remember to flip your ballot over to vote on the proposed constitutional amendments.
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