As you have probably been made aware of but did not absorb in any meaningful way, REDISTRICTING is upon us. What is it?
Simply put, every 10 years the districts which define who is represented by which elected officials on the federal, state and local levels are altered to comply with the once-a-decade census. In theory, the districts are to be adjusted based on population shifts.
In practice, lines are redrawn by political majorities to best protect incumbents based more on shifts in voter registration; a process commonly referred to as gerrymandering.
Why does this matter to the everyday citizen? For most people who are focused on their family and their jobs and the fact that little league is about to start, it doesn't matter one bit. The reason being it is too complicated, too much of an insider issue and frankly it has nothing to do with taxes, the delivery of services those taxes pay for or social issues which define our ideology.
It is the rarest of issues that falls solely into a category of its own and draws outcry only from editorial boards, good government groups and those insiders who stand to lose in the process. Even former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, who has made this his signature political issue, has seen his efforts fall on deaf ears; a position unfamiliar to him as still today his voice carries tremendous weight with current and former New York City and surrounding suburban voters.
Today, the two houses of the New York State Legislature (charged with drawing their own lines as well as congressional lines) have yet to agree on new maps. In fact, as recently as this past Tuesday, maps were produced independent of the State Assembly and State Senate by a now mandated special master. The lengthy explanation as to why this is the case can be found here and the maps here.
It is a dizzying process; one that will never be scrutinized and agonized over by the likes of Cindy Citizen.
In the end, it will all be worked out and we won't hear about it again for another 10 years. It is important that the media and independent watch dogs do their jobs and keep their eyes on this process. All the more important now because when it comes to redistricting, most folks have never, do not, and will never care to know.