McMahon vetoes controversial redistricting map
On Monday, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon vetoed the legislature-approved county redistricting map.
His formal reason for vetoing the map was because the population deviation was higher than 5%–violating a new state law signed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul about halfway through the county’s redistricting process.
In fact, the largest population deviation was between Districts 15 and 12. District 15 was the largest with 29,137 people and District 12 was the smallest with 26,734. That deviation is about 8.6% of the mean district population of 28,030.
Informally, McMahon was critical of the impact the new map would have on the 16th legislative district. Currently, the district’s population is 59% Black, but under the new legislative boundaries would only retain a Black population of 37%.
New York Law School adjunct professor and senior fellow, Jeffrey Wice, said that eliminating the Black majority in that district could be in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act which says, under certain circumstances, that governments must draw legislative districts that allow minorities to vote for their preferred candidates. Additionally, the law that Hochul recently signed prohibits diminishing the ability of racial or language minorities “to elect representatives of their choice.”
This decision comes just days after the seventh and final public hearing about the matter, which was filled with residents, elected officials and advocates pleading with McMahon to veto the map due to “racial gerrymandering” among other things.
Throughout the redistricting process, the public has been outspoken against the map for gerrymandering and against the process for being “rushed.” However, the map, which was Republican-drawn, advanced through the reapportionment commission to the county legislature where chairman David Knapp–who sat on the commission–made the deciding vote to present it to McMahon.
Since its narrow approval by the legislature, Democrats across the county have threatened to sue the reapportionment commission over the redistricting map if McMahon were to have passed it. They planned to do so on the basis that the map would violate Hochul’s new law about population deviation that McMahon cited in his veto letter.
Now, the map will be returned to the legislature where they can either revise it themselves or reconvene the reapportionment commission to restart the process.