In New York State, there is a bipartisan commission that was chosen by voters in 2014 and is designed to reduce the potential of bias from redistricting in the state. New York lawmakers tried to pass an amendment that makes the commission easier to override, but that appears to have failed.

New York Democrats do have a supermajority in the legislature, albeit barely. Let's say that they cannot pass a map that the state Democrats want because enough Democrats protest vote against it to speak out against gerrymandering (or choose not to because they are afraid that that would happen) and are forced to accept the commission plan (they'd probably accept the Letters plan if they had to choose a map from the commission.)

Does the state legislature have to accept the commission's map or choose one without a 2/3 vote to override as I have read, assuming Amendment 1's trailing in vote totals holds in the certified totals?


The 2014 amendment which introduced the bipartisan redistricting commission is poorly drafted, in my opinion. I think the intention was to ensure that a redistricting plan could only be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of the NY legislature - as you suggest - but as written, once two redistricting plans have failed to pass the legislature by a two-thirds majority - or have been vetoed by the governor - either the NY Assembly or the Senate may introduce their own redistricting legislation which would only require a simple majority to be implemented.

Article III, section 4(b) of the amended constitution states that the redistricting commission gets two opportunities to present plans to the legislature. Because the Assembly and the Senate are controlled by the same party, passing either of these plans requires a two-thirds majority per Article III, section 4(b)(3).

All votes by the senate or assembly on any redistricting plan legislation pursuant to this article shall be conducted in accordance with the following rules:


(3) In the event that the speaker of the assembly and the temporary president of the senate are members of the same political party, approval of legislation submitted by the independent redistricting commission pursuant to subdivision (f) or (g) of section five-b of this article shall require the vote in support of its passage by at least two-thirds of the members elected to each house.

However, this two-thirds requirement only applies to plans submitted by the redistricting commission. Once these have been rejected, this rule ceases to apply. Only those drafting rules in section 4(c) - regarding contiguity, compactness and so on, apply to the new legislation and any amendments to that legislation.

There is possibly an argument that the two-thirds majority should apply, as section 4(b) states:

If either house shall fail to approve the legislation implementing the second redistricting plan, or the governor shall veto such legislation and the legislature shall fail to override such veto, each house shall introduce such implementing legislation with any amendments each house of the legislature deems necessary. All such amendments shall comply with the provisions of this article. If approved by both houses, such legislation shall be presented to the governor for action.

I suppose one could argue that the two-thirds majority requirement should be read as applying to overriding implementing legislation as well as legislation implementing the redistricting commission's plans - however there is certainly no explicit requirement, and I believe that as written, a simple majority of 50%+1 is sufficient to pass overriding legislation in both chambers.

This reading is shared by David Nir, political director of the Daily Kos, while Stephen Wolf, a staff writer in their elections team, writes that "experts disagree" without further elaboration. I'm not aware of any other analysis of the article.

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