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New York Republicans say Democrats impeding work of redistricting commission

New York state Sen. Rob Ortt speaks against legislation granting undocumented Immigrant driver’s licenses during a Senate session at the state Capitol on June 17, 2019, in Albany, N.Y.

(The Center Square) – The New York Senate Republican Conference accused their counterparts on the other side of the aisle of interfering with the Independent Redistricting Commission, calling the Senate Democrats’ conduct an attempt to overturn the will of the voters.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza said Democrats have done nothing to encourage the commission, which was born out of a 2014 state constitutional amendment, to perform its constitutional duties.

“Now Democrats want to roll back those important reforms and undermine the will of an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who voted for a fair, independent redistricting process,” State Sen. Robert Ortt said in a statement. “The legislature must stop interfering with the Commission and allow them to get to work.”

The Times Union of Albany described the state’s once-a-decade legislative redistricting process as a routine riddled with contention, intrigue, and backroom dealing. While this year appears to be no different, new factors come into play: COVID-19 and a measure intended to bring fairness and transparency to the process mired in uncertainty.

The IRC has the responsibility of drawing the state’s district lines for the next decade or so with Census results as its guide. It is unknown whether the task will be completed as intended and on time.

State Sen. Tom O’Meara believes Democrats want to entrench themselves in power permanently.

“That’s not what the voters want, and they overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment in 2014 to stop it,” O’Meara said in a statement. “Let’s get this Independent Redistricting Commission to work and stop trying to put a complete end to checks and balances in this legislative process.”

Democrats have the majority in both chambers of the legislature.

“It is alarming that the democrats now want to ignore the will of the people and overturn the result of the election,” Lanza said. “The important work of the commission must remain independent and not subjected to the tyranny of a majority.”

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