The Onondaga County legislature has shut down a bill to allow citizens to redraw district lines. The decision followed a rally of people urging the legislature to approve the bill.
However, those who voted against it say they are committed to improving the county’s current process.
After a long and heated discussion at Tuesday’s legislature meeting, the bill to create a citizen-led commission to redraw legislative districts was defeated by the Republican-led legislature 11-to-6 along party lines.
The current process has elected officials and appointees to create the maps, and protesters say it has led to gerrymandering.
“They are drawing lines and maps in such convoluted ways that it precludes any sense of reason,” said NYCLU Regional Director, Yusuf Abdul-Qadir. “It precludes any sense that it’s a fair process.”
Fair Maps CNY is a group formed to back the bill. Members say the republican caucus signed a pledge to pass the bill.
“We need to restore the power to the people,” said Fair Maps CNY Organizer, Perrin Wasser. “We need to make sure that citizens are able to participate in redrawing these districts to make sure that everyone has fair representation.”
Republican lawmakers say the pledge they signed didn’t mention the bill. They are supporting nonpartisan and independent redistricting.
“I think we have a good system, said Onondaga County Legislator Chairman, David Knapp. “It can absolutely be improved and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Republican legislators recommend elected officials appointing individuals unaffiliated with a major party to be on the Reappointment Commission. They say their plan for redistricting will ban former or current elected officials from creating new maps.
“There were certainly some raw emotions out there, but this is very important to people. I understand. Hopefully, we can turn a corner and get back to regular business here next week,” said Knapp.
The plan will be presented at a Ways and Means committee meeting next Friday.