NEW YORK, New York — The UNITY MAP COALITION, a consortium of three leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations fighting for equitable electoral districts for over three decades, continues our historic watchdog role over New York State’s redistricting map with preliminary comments on the draft redistricting maps released this afternoon by the NYS Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). The IRC, in order to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act and the US Constitution, must ensure that districts do not discriminate against the voting rights of Black, Latino and Asian residents and also keep communities of interest intact throughout the state.
The IRC unfortunately has shirked its constitutional responsibility by failing to propose a single comprehensive set of maps for public consideration, and instead promulgated two competing sets of conflicting maps which will only obfuscate public understanding. Given the IRC’s inability to reach any internal bi-partisan consensus agreement, these conflicting maps have increased the onus on the public for knowledgeable and transparent participation in the upcoming series of public redistricting hearings.
While the entire country has been impacted by the extremely late release of the 2020 Census figures used for redistricting, the IRC has compounded the harm with its flawed drafting process and failed to provide New Yorkers with adequate time to create and submit advisory maps and pertinent 2020 Census data. This would have allowed New Yorkers to better influence the IRC’s deliberations prior to today’s release of its draft maps. The IRC has also failed to make that data or public mapping programs and hardware easily accessible to communities and advocates. The IRC is pushing its maps upon us without giving New Yorkers adequate time to digest the 2020 data just released last month.
The UNITY MAP COALITION will carefully and closely examine the initial drafts of the IRC Redistricting maps for the NYS Assembly, State Senate, and Congress. We will specifically be looking out for any dilution of the voting rights of any of the three legally protected racial groups in New York City (Asians, Blacks, and Latinos) and plan to submit an alternative “Unity” map for consideration that will demonstrate how the IRC can avoid that, while respecting other high priority redistricting principles, such as “one person – one vote,” compactness, and contiguity. Our map will ensure that all communities, particularly those most vulnerable, have full and fair political power and representation.
Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.
Interim Executive Director & General Counsel
Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College (CLSJ)
Margaret Fung, Esq.
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Jose Perez, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel
**About the UNITY MAP COALITION
**The UNITY MAP COALITION is comprised of the leading legal voting rights advocacy organizations representing people of color in New York City: LatinoJustice/PRLDEF; the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY; and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
During the last Redistricting cycle in 2010-11, the Coalition successfully advocated for the adoption of its historic Unity Map for the 2010 Redistricting Congressional districts in NYC, the State Senate and Assembly, and the New York City Council. This Coalition rewrote redistricting history in NYS and serves as a model for the nation of collective advocacy and power sharing by diverse racial and cultural communities within a jurisdiction.
**LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For nearly 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org
**The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), a New York-based national organization founded in 1974, protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence.
About The Center For Law And Social Justice At Medgar Evers College
CLSJ’s mission is to address racial justice issues by providing quality legal advocacy, conducting community education campaigns, facilitating research and building organizing capacity on behalf of New Yorkers of African descent and the disenfranchised. To learn more about CLSJ visit www.CLSJ.org.
Sarai Bejarano, Manager of Traditional & Digital Media, LatinoJustice
Imani Dawson, Communications & Media, CLSJ
Stuart Sia, Communications Director, AALDEF
212.966.5932 ext. 203⏐email@example.com