County legislature rejects redistricting map

— Map from Albany County 

The district boundaries drawn by the Albany County Redistricting Commission on this map did not receive approval from the county legislature this month. 

ALBANY COUNTY — After a year’s worth of work by an independent redistricting commission and a majority-minority subcommittee, the Albany County Legislature rejected the new legislative districts those groups had proposed to them.

The reasoning, according to a letter addressed to the commission and signed by Democrats Andrew Joyce, Dennis Feeney, and Bill Clay, was that by adding two majority-minority districts to the county’s existing five, the communities within them might have their collective voting power diminished. 

“The final map presented to the Legislature by ACRC contained five MMDs with the possibility of two opportunity MMDs,” the letter states. “This raises some concerns – essentially, that the districts will be weak and ineffective as MMDs. These communities of color are better served if the minority voting populations therein are not spread so thin and instead are more cohesive, unified and better able to represent the needs of their residents.”  

The votes against the map — 24 in total — had been cast entirely by Democrats, while six Democrats joined all nine Republicans in approving the map. 

Marie Allen Campbell, who serves on the majority-minority subcommittee, told The Enterprise this week that the group expected some opposition, but thought that the map would ultimately be approved. 

Joyce had raised the same concern about reduced minority voting power in a June correspondence

“While we fully stand behind the map we submitted, we know there is no perfect map and that no one map will satisfy everyone,” Allen Campbell said. “We also know that competing priorities in redistricting also result in a need to make difficult choices. The MMD will stay in the process called for under Local Law 8 for 2019. 

“The MMD will carefully consider the concerns that have been raised by the legislature in their rejection of the map,” she continued, “and along with our consultants will re-review the map and our associated work to develop an appropriate response to the issues raised in the rejection of the map. At the end of the day, the MMD's primary goal is to ensure fair representation for minority voters and that minority voters are able to elect representatives of their choosing.” 

The commission has 60 days from Oct. 11 to submit a new map, according to a statement on its webpage. A meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27, with no time listed, where the commission will accept more community input. County residents may also send in their comments digitally by following guidance on the Albany County Redistricting Commission page on the county website.

The commission began meeting almost exactly a year ago after the county determined that it would rely on an independent body to create its new legislative maps, which it does every 10 years based on the federal census. 

The county has historically had trouble creating its own legislative maps. In 2010, minority voting power was the focus of a lawsuit brought against the county by three residents. 

The plaintiffs were concerned that the lack of a fifth minority-majority district “denied [minority voters] an equal opportunity to that of white voters to elect candidates of their choice to the legislature and [to] have less opportunity than whites to participate in the political process,” as The Enterprise reported at the time. 


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