Good-government groups have long sought to change the once-a-decade redistricting process in Albany that has resulted in oddly shaped legislative lines favoring incumbents. But with a proposal on the November ballot to finally and dramatically alter the process, the reformers are launching a campaign against it.
Common Cause New York, NYPIRG and others are opposing what they call "fake redistricting reform" that would be enshrined in the state's constitution if a majority of voters back it. The groups say the proposal is a far cry from truly impartial redistricting, which has been adopted in states such as California, because final approval of the district maps would remain in the hands of the Legislature.
"In the end, this is an attempt to constitutionally memorialize a system where both parties run roughshod over the voters," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.
But some fear that reformers' solutions would run roughshod over the business community instead by facilitating a Democratic takeover of the state Senate, which could lead to more regulation and mandates for employers. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans two-to-one statewide, requiring the GOP to gerrymander to keep its numbers up.
Common Cause plans to raise money for a grassroots advocacy effort, though its funding is expected to be relatively modest.