For Central New York voters, little has changed for their state senate and assembly districts in the November election.
This small change was expected, said Jeffrey Stonecash, political science professor at Syracuse University. The districts were redrawn by the appointed New York State Legislative Task Force. The result, Stonecash said, was to “keep most of the districts essentially where they were.”
This process is called redistricting where district lines are reconfigured every ten years. It is based on the changes in population from the most recent census data. The New York State Senate has 63 districts. And the State Assembly has 150 districts.
In the senate, one Central New York district changed names from the 49th Senate District to the 53rd District. The other remained the 50th Senate District.
In the 50th Senate District, the longtime senator is John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse. Since 2002, the 50th Senate District has covered Western parts of Onondaga County. It stretched north to Lysander and Clay, east to Pompey, down south to Otisco, and as far west as Skaneateles.
Under redistricting in 2012, the 50th Senate District picked up DeWitt and Manlius. It also covers towns west of Skaneateles: Ira, Cato, Brutus and Sennett.
In the newly named Senate District 53, the incumbent is Sen. David J. Valesky, D-Oneida. In 2002, the former 49th Senate District covered Madison County, parts of Oneida and a couple of towns west of Onondaga County. As of this year, the new 53rd Senate District lost all the towns west of Onondaga County. It lost parts of Oneida, DeWitt and Manlius as well. An important addition to the 53rd Senate District is much of Syracuse, according to The Task Force.
In the state assembly, the redistricting looks like this:
The old 119th Assembly District becomes the new 127th Assembly District. Assemblyman Sam Roberts, D-Syracuse, represents the district. In 2002, district 119 covered the towns of Salina, DeWitt, Onondaga, portions of the city of Syracuse and the Onondaga Nation. Now, the 127th Assembly District 127 includes Clay, Cicero, Manlius, Pompey, Fabius and Tully, according to The Task Force.
The old 120th Assembly District changes to the new 128th Assembly District. Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, represents the district. A decade ago, the 120th Assembly District had the towns of Van Buren and Geddes and portions of Syracuse. The new 128th Assembly District has the towns of Salina, DeWitt, Onondaga, Onondaga Nation and the city of Syracuse, according to The Task Force.
The old 121st Assembly District becomes the 129th Assembly District. Assemblyman Donald R. Miller, R-Liverpool, represents the district. The 121st Assembly District used to be the towns of Clay, Cicero, Manlius, Pompey and LaFayette. Now the new 129th Assembly District represents Van Buren, Geddes, parts of Syracuse and parts of DeWitt, according to The Task Force.
One of the main arguments that surrounds redistricting is gerrymandering. That is when the district lines are manipulated to favor one political party over the other. This could give politicians an advantage in their district or lead to people feeling misrepresented because of where they live.
It happens quite frequently, said Stonecash, SU political science professor. He added, “Everybody always says it likes it’s evil. It has been going on since the beginning of time.”
There is no clear alternative to gerrymandering, Stonecash said. “It’s always frowned upon,” he said, “ as if there is a clear standard of what would be a good set of districts.”
People who feel they are not properly represented in their district simply do not vote, Stonecash contended. “If you don’t register,” he said, “if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”
(Jake Reiner is a junior broadcast journalism student with a minor in European history.)