County redistricting committee redraws MMDs, other districts to follow

— Map from Albany County

This map shows the five majority-minority districts in Albany County in the redistricting commission’s new plan, which has yet to be completed. 

ALBANY COUNTY – The Albany County Redistricting Commission is following the Albany County Legislature’s advice as it works on a new redistricting plan after the legislature rejected its first one. 

The original plan was rejected by the legislature because it risked diluting minority voting power in the county, according to county legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce in the legislature’s written response to the commission’s original submission. 

“Currently, Albany County has five strong majority-minority districts (MMDs) – districts one, two, three, four and six,” Joyce wrote last month. “Maintaining effective MMDs safeguards voting rights and allows minority populations to elect their preferred candidate. The final map presented to the Legislature by ACRC contained five MMDs with the possibility of two opportunity MMDs. This raises some concerns — essentially, that the districts will be weak and ineffective as MMDs.” 

The commission’s original submission — a map it created with help from the appointed Majority-Minority Subcommittee — stretched practically all of the original districts to incorporate more communities, with District Three appearing to more than double in area to include the village of Menands. 

This time around, though, the MMDs will be virtually unchanged from their present forms, with only District Four growing in size to add what appears to be five additional streets, according to a map published by the commission, which shows the districts as they were approved by the commission on Nov. 16. 

The average percentage of Hispanic voters and non-Hispanic Black voters in those five districts will be 61.9 percent, with white voters making up an average of 26.2 percent.

It’s the first step toward a county-wide map, which is due Dec. 10 — 60 days from Oct. 11, when the county rejected the first map. The commission states on its website that the remaining districts are in the process of being drawn. 

Presumably, the reconfigured MMDs will make the new plan more likely to succeed since the legislature did not take issue with any other aspect of the original plan, according to the legislature’s October response. 

Perceived inattention to minority representation has generated legal challenges against the county in the last three redistricting efforts, leading the county, this year, to rely on an independent commission and its majority-minority subcommittee. 

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