As the political games of redistricting heat up this week, civil rights groups are staying focused on the prize: good maps. A coalition of advocacy groups teamed up yesterday and released what they call the “Unity Map,” which contains specific recommendations for Senate, Assembly, and Congressional districts that they argue will help give minority groups the strongest voice in the electoral process.
Every 10 years, states across the country redraw district lines based on Census data, and given the growth of several key minority groups in New York City, it’s important that the new lines keep these communities united, advocates argue.
The Unity Map — which is a recommendation sent to the state agency that handles redistricting — draws four Asian American majority State Assembly districts (compared to one under current lines). In Queens, the number of Asian Americans has skyrocketed 300 times faster than the rest of the borough’s population over the past decade; the Unity Map recommends one majority State Senate district for Flushing/Bayside. The map also unites splintered Asian American neighborhoods in Eastern Queens, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Manhattan’s Chinatown within Congressional districts.
The map was created by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, National Institute for Latino Policy, and the Center for Law and Social Justice of Medgar Evers College.
Since Latinos make up the city’s largest minority group at 29% of the total 8.1 million population, the groups are recommending 16 Latino majority State Assembly districts (as opposed to 13 now), seven majority State Senate districts (as opposed to five now) and three Congressional districts (as opposed to one now).
“We want to make sure there’s racial equity in the political representation of New Yorkers,” Glenn Magpantay, director of the democracy program for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, told Runnin’ Scared.
His group also recently filed a lawsuit against state officials arguing that Asian Americans’ votes count less than the votes of other New Yorkers the way the lines are currently drawn.
“We can work with them, or we can fight with them,” Magpantay said.
It’s unclear when the state will actually release new maps with updated lines. A spokesperson for the task force that handles redistricting told Runnin’ Scared today that everything is on schedule, but added that there’s no specific date for when new maps will be released.
Meanwhile, the political drama around the redistricting process is on the rise this week, with the GOP pushing to add a 63rd seat to the chamber, which could have something to do with new prison population data being discussed today in Albany.