Democracy in New York is suffering from Democrats’ single-party rule. Recently, Democrats in the Assembly and Senate, in companion bills, placed politics above democracy by voting to amend the state constitution to ensure that the Democrat Party keeps its stranglehold on Albany politics into perpetuity.
Every ten years, a census is taken. The data collected affects the number of state legislators and the geographical boundaries of each legislative district.
After the districts were drawn following the 2010 census, voters passed a ballot referendum amending the state constitution to take redistricting power away from the legislature and to vest it in an independent redistricting commission. The Democrats, who now control of both houses of the state legislature, decided this year to claw back that power.
First, the legislature decreed that, for determining the number of residents of the state, and therefore the number of state legislators, non-citizens—including illegal aliens—will be counted. Illegal aliens, of course, tend to reside in urban and suburban areas of the state, which tend to be Democrat strongholds.
According to the Pew Research Center, the largest illegal alien population in the entire country resides in the metro-New York City area. As of 2016, that number topped 1 million.
As Professor Dennis Murphy stated in the Case Western Reserve Law Review, “[i]ncluding illegal aliens … affects individual citizens’ rights, creating inequality of voting power between citizens in districts with large numbers of illegal aliens and citizens who live in districts with small numbers of illegal aliens.”
Including illegal aliens in the ratio of inhabitants per legislator is designed for one purpose only: to increase the number of Democrat legislators so that party can retain their majority in the statehouse.
Second, the legislature voted that, for determining the number of inhabitants per legislator, inmates who are incarcerated in state prisons will now be counted as living at their place of last residence before entering the prison system.
Approximately half of all inmates in New York State prisons (49.95 percent) come from New York City, more than 20 percent come from the New York City suburbs, and another 25 percent come from large upstate cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany—all of which are bastions of the Democrat Party. Stated otherwise, more than 95 percent of inmates in New York’s prison system hail from Democrat-controlled regions, while less than 4 percent come from Republican-controlled areas.
By counting inmates, including those serving life sentences, as residents of the majority-Democrat urban and suburban areas where they lived before becoming incarcerated rather than of the majority-Republican upstate counties where the prisons are located, the Democrats in Albany have guaranteed more legislative seats to those Democrat-dominated regions. This, too, translates into more Democrats in the statehouse.
Third, Democrats voted to make important structural changes to the independent redistricting commission (IRC) that eliminate important checks and balances designed to ensure the minority party is represented.
The IRC must appoint two co-executive directors who are in charge of appointing the commission’s duties. While both houses of the legislature are currently controlled by the same party, the constitution requires that one of the IRC’s executive directors must be a Democrat and the other a Republican. Recently, Democrats voted to jettison this provision.
It also used to be that the executive directors could only be appointed if each received the support of a majority of the IRC commissioners, including at least one of the commissioners appointed by the minority party. Democrats tossed out this guardrail, as well.
And while the constitution currently requires that any redistricting plan submitted to the legislature by the IRC must be approved by two-thirds (66 percent) of each house before it can go into effect, the Democrats voted to reduce this percentage to 60 percent.
This is a big deal. Of the 63 state senators, 40 are Democrats. To get the support of two-thirds, Democrats would need to win over 42 senators; but they would only need 38 senators to give them 60 percent. This means that under Democrats’ desired system, Republican lawmakers could be ignored.
By creating new legislative seats in areas with large concentrations of Democrats, Democrats will give themselves an insurmountable supermajority in the Senate, thereby cementing their control of the legislature. Moreover, such a super-majority will make all Democrat-supported legislation veto-proof, neutering the power of any future Republican governor.
Democrats’ plan is not yet a fait accompli. It must pass another session of the legislature (in 2021) and then be approved by the voters in a ballot referendum. But make no mistake: should the Democrats’ plan go into effect, eliminating the checks and balances intended to protect the minority would result in the “tyranny of the majority” that James Madison warned against in Federalist 10.
To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, democracy in New York would perpetually be two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch. Single-party rule is destroying New York. Let’s end it before it’s too late.