Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another perspective on redistricting

Bill Hammond at the Daily News has an excellent column today on how Albany politicians have rigged districts to serve their own ends. It is an issue we have addressed many times in the past, including here, here and here. We will continue to discuss redistricting in the future. In the meantime, read this:
A new report from Citizens Union should throw a scare into all New Yorkers who still believe in democratic government.

The 114-year-old watchdog group has crunched the numbers and confirmed what your gut was already telling you: The disconnect between Albany lawmakers and the people they supposedly represent has gone from bad to much, much worse.

Because the powers that be have so thoroughly rigged the game for their own advantage, most members of the Legislature routinely return to office every other year after elections that have been reduced to Soviet-style jokes.

Nine out of 10 cruise by comfortable margins of 10 points or more. Almost a third are complete shoo-ins, facing either no major-party contender or no opponent at all.

And the races have gotten dramatically less competitive in recent decades, with the average margin of victory soaring from a ridiculous 33 percentage points to a laughable 51 points last year.

In 1968, just 1% of legislative races were uncontested. Last year, that number had skyrocketed to 19%.

Little wonder that the reelection rate for incumbents was 96% over the last decade — and 100% in 2006.

And little wonder that New York’s election turnout has dropped below 35%, the fourth lowest in the country. Voters know a con when they smell one.

The report traces these sickening trends to the heart of Albany’s incumbency-protection racket: the brazenly partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts.
The full column is here.