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more transparent than the current legislative process, thus encouraging the public to take a greater interest in this issue and in government.

Incumbents will not be able to bend the system to their own advantage, as in the past. New candidates with new ideas will be better able to compete for seats. The most difficult - and important - factor in establishing a commission would be to convince the lawmakers to vote for such a plan. This is only likely to be achieved by pressing the issue during election season. Henry Stern, leader of the reform group, NY Civic, says we should demand that candidates include their position on how redistricting should be done in their campaigns for office. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, working with Stern, in the group he heads, “New York Uprising” has taken a strong step of labeling several politicians as “enemies of reform.” He is trying to bring public pressure on candidates to accept new directions before they are elected. All labeled politicians are of the majority party, which is a general pattern of reform efforts, because those who have the power seek to maintain it. Ideological opponents to this reform system of redistricting appear to be small in number, or, at least, not so vocal in their opposition to moving in a new direction. It should be noted again, however, that the public has had little or nothing to say about how New York’s district lines are drawn. How many voters are aware that the lines are often drawn to their disadvantage, in order to serve incumbency protection?

In Arizona election districts are drawn by a 5-member commission. The members may be partisan, but not more than two can be from the same political party. Several other restrictions are included to try to make the commission independent. The members may not have run for or been appointed to office in the last three years, or have worked as a paid lobbyist. The members are chosen by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.

A law has been passed to implement an even more elaborate system in California. It specifies a 14-member commission, with application open to the public. Five members must be of the majority party, 5 of the second largest party, and 4 must be nonpartisan. The members must not have changed parties in the last 5 years. 30,000 individuals applied to join the commission. 25,000 of those qualified to fill out a supplemental application, of which 5,000 did so and continued with the process.

An applicant review panel will then narrow the pool to 60


Renew New York Issue-in-Brief: Drawing the Line in New York State  

Prepared by Uniondale High School and The Wheatley School students, Doyin Akintobi, Jesse Manor, Kharolann Pierre, Candice Sejour, Daniel Wi...