The state task force charged with redistricting ruled Tuesday that prisoners will now be counted in their home districts rather than where they are held behind bars. NY1’s Zack Fink filed the following report.
The redistricting task force, known by the acronym "LATFOR," on Tuesday codified a law that was passed two years ago. For the upcoming elections, prisoners will be counted as residents of their home districts.
This affects 46,000 prisoners, two-thirds of whom are from New York City.
"I think it's finally overdue. We all knew that these bodies, so to speak, persons that come from New York City, were being counted really in a very perverse way just to shore up the political fortunes of people in upstate communities," said Juan Cartegena of Latino Justice.
Another issue related to redistricting is a Republican plan to add a 63rd state Senate seat. The proposal led to an argument between Republican and Democratic members of the task force.
"We lost two representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, so how can we justify increasing the size of the New York state Senate?" said Brooklyn state Senator Martin Dilan.
Democrats say the seat would likely be added upstate, thus benefitting the Republican Party.
"Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, the Senate Republicans have decided to disregard the plain language of the Constitution and judicial interpretations of that language and tried to add a 63rd seat to the Senate when it is completely not warranted under any legal standard whatsoever," said Queens state Senator Michael Gianaris.
"The Constitution is an inconvenient truth for many who want to see it run roughshod. I think we are obeying the law. We are trying to reflect that law," said Cayuga state Senator Michael Nozzolio.
There are many who believe these two issues are related. By allowing prisoners to be counted in their mostly downstate home districts, Republicans proposed adding a 63rd seat to maintain their majority in the state Senate.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto any redistricting lines not drawn by an independent commission.