Judge: NY Must Reword Redistricting Referendum

ALBANY (AP) -

New York election officials must reword a November ballot question on the creation of a redistricting commission to avoid misleading voters into thinking it would be independent, a state judge ruled Wednesday.

Supreme Court Justice Patrick McGrath’s ruling orders the state’s Board of Elections to delete the word “independent” from the description of the proposed commission. McGrath noted that top legislators would appoint eight out of 10 members of the commission and that the Legislature could reject its redistricting proposals and substitute their own.

“Legislative semantics do not change the reality that the commission’s plan is little more than a recommendation to the Legislature,” McGrath wrote in his ruling.

State political districts are redrawn every decade in a process that good-government groups have long said is designed to protect incumbents. This year’s ballot referendum asks voters to authorize a new commission to handle redistricting beginning in 2022.

Groups are divided on whether voters should embrace the proposed commission as the first change in decades or reject it for being too narrow.