Thank you for visiting us at the Draw Democracy Campaign! We are fighting for fair electoral districts in New York because:
- Partisan gerrymandering is good for politicians – BUT NOT FOR VOTERS!
- If we don’t come together NOW to fight for fair districts, we’ll be stuck with unfair districts, drawn to protect incumbents and parties in power, FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS!
Donate $49 or more to get yourself a Gerrymandering puzzle
And show the world just how crazy and unfair these districts are!
How You Can Help
FIND YOUR DISTRICT
Because districts don’t correspond with neighborhoods at all – in fact, they jump across boroughs and counties, city and suburbs, and even rivers – you could never guess which district is yours.
In this campaign, we’re focused on the NY State Senate in New York City, whose districts are especially bad. You are welcome to use the puzzle and any information we provide to educate and organize around districts outside the city, Assembly or Congressional districts, or anything else related to gerrymandering!
See that little chunk strip on the bottom left, like a puddle of tea poured from a pitcher?
Back in March 2012, that little chunk was part of District 27 to the west. Lew Fidler, a popular Democratic City Councilman, ran for State Senate in a special election there, and lost by just a few votes. Then the redistricting happened.
The GOP wanted to create a district for conservative Democrat Simcha Felder. So they created District 17 out of 27, including the northwest part, and adding Borough Park, which had more of Felder’s likely voters.
They wanted to move Fidler out so he couldn’t challenge Felder in the fall primary, so they moved his home to that little chunk added to District 19. Fidler did not run in his new district, where he had no base, and Simcha Felder was elected.
In 2002, Kevin Parker, who is African American, defeated former City Councilman Noach Dear in a tightly contested Democratic primary for a newly drawn, open State Senate seat in Brooklyn. He won the 2002 general election and was elected to the Senate for the first time. In the 2008 Democratic primary, Parker held off a strong challenge from New York City Councilmember Simcha Felder.
In 2012, Parker’s district was redrawn, removing Borough Park and parts of Kensington, and became a majority African American district. The parts removed became part of District 17, tailored for Felder, who was elected to it in 2013.
The district was re-drawn to protect GOP incumbent Marty Golden in 2012 by cherry-picking areas to capture Republicans and remove Democrats. The mostly black and Latino housing projects of Bensonhurst were cut out of Golden’s district.
Politico once dubbed Golden “speed camera enemy #1.” His 2013 “no” vote helped bring down a safe streets initiative, including adding more speed cameras. This in spite of the fact that just a few weeks earlier, a woman was killed by a car on 86th Street and 4th Ave. Golden was targeted by the Moreland Commission for campaign finance violations. He was replaced by Andrew Gounardes in 2018.
Redistricting will happen this year and next for both Congressional districts and State Senate/Assembly districts. Most of the press attention goes to Congressional districts, partly because the House of Representatives is so closely divided and control of Congress will be up for grabs in next year’s election.
However, the State Legislature also wields a lot of power over things that affect all of us directly. Here are some fun facts about the State Legislature and what is in the most recent State budget:
- Our State Legislature is the highest-paid in the nation; each member earns $110,000 a year, plus per diems.
- All the funds spent in the current budget total $222 billion.
- The budget requires broadband companies to provide and market $15/month broadband service for poor families.
- The budget provides tax incentives for employers to provide child care.
- The budget invests in green energy, including the largest offshore wind program in the nation.
Historically, NY’s state government in Albany has been afflicted with a lot of corruption and gridlock. Progressive State Senators elected in the past two cycles have already had a major effect on certain State laws passed, such as bail reform and increased taxes on the wealthy. Democrats recently consolidated power and now hold what’s called a “trifecta”: the Governorship plus super majorities in both the Assembly and State Senate. This greatly impacts what objectives the minority Republican Party is able to achieve.
How We Define Fair Maps
The following elements of fair maps have a lot of consensus among election reform groups, and we agree.
- Not pro-incumbent (no partisan gerrymandering)
- No racial based voting rights abridgment
- Preserve existing communities of interest
- Comply w Constitution/Voting Rights Act of 1965
- Contiguous (all parts of district should be connected geographically)
More on best practices for drawing fair maps:
Scroll down a bit to find them. You will be amazed at how many of these “best practices” were broken during the drawing of NY State Senate districts.
Learn More about Gerrymandering
Excerpt from Commentary:
My congressional district is a “safe” district for the incumbent’s party. If anyone were to seriously challenge him, it would be in the primary and typically would involve a challenger claiming to be even more extreme than the incumbent…As a consequence, [the incumbent] gives no evidence of caring what less conservative, moderate or liberal voters in his district think, because there aren’t enough of them to unseat him. They become invisible.
In contrast, my S.C. House district is not a “safe” district. The margin of victory often has been fewer than 300 votes. This is not a district for extreme partisan ideologues. Winning election and serving in the district means talking to and working with people with different and even competing interests…
Legislators are tempted to serve their own interests and to make their own districts more predictably biased toward themselves and their party. In the long run, they may…make it easier for a more extreme candidate to take them out in a primary…The cumulative effect over multiple rounds of sophisticated and complex redistricting is to increase political polarization.
About the #DrawDemocracy Campaign
The #DrawDemocracy Campaign is a partnership between True Democracy NY and RepresentUS NYC.
Its goals are to educate New Yorkers about the anti-democratic practice of partisan gerrymandering, and along with other grassroots groups, to educate and organize New Yorkers on the issue, and advocate for fair district maps in 2021-2022 by attending public hearings and contacting the Redistricting Commission and their New York State elected officials. Ultimately, we plan to advocate for a truly independent redistricting commission for future cycles.
True Democracy NY, a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, is a non-partisan group of New Yorkers dedicated to changing the systemic dysfunction and corruption of New York politics. We believe in empowering everyday people to take action locally to fix our broken elections and hold politicians accountable.
The NYC chapter has been around since 2015 and is proud of what we have accomplished. The chief sponsor of NYC’s latest campaign finance law, Councilmember Ben Kallos, said that “NYC campaign finance reform would not have happened without RepresentUs NYC.” We contributed a great deal to ranked choice voting education in 2019 and got nearly 50 candidates for NY public office to sign our #FixNYDemocracy pledge in 2020.
Some of us are involved with both groups!