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Coalition seeks neutral language for election redistricting language

Rochester Business Journal
July 29, 2014

The state Board of Elections is expected to adopt language for a redistricting amendment on the November ballot.

A coalition of good government groups and others on Tuesday said they want the language to be unbiased.

“Voters expect that elections will be conducted fairly and without favor,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause of New York, in a statement. “It would be unacceptable for the ballot language, which describes a measure, to favor its passage or defeat.”

The elections board is expected to adopt ballot language proposed by the Office of the Attorney General on Friday.

Common Cause, the New York Public Interest Research Group, EffectiveNY and Make the Road New York are among the groups pushing for the neutral language. The coalition offered a draft proposal of its own:

“The proposed amendment to Article 3 of the Constitution would allow New York State’s legislative leaders to appoint a bipartisan commission to establish new state legislative and congressional district lines every 10 years pursuant to state criteria with final approval by the Legislature. Shall the amendment be approved?”

The language must not mirror that of the amendment for casinos in Upstate New York, said Jesse Laymon, executive director of EffectiveNY, in the statement.

The casino amendment, which was approved, was worded “to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”

Critics called the wording misleading and supportive of the casino plan.

“This year’s amendment on redistricting must not be a repeat,” Laymon said.

“It would be a travesty, for example, if the ballot language described the proposed new redistricting panel as independent when, in fact, it would be appointed by the Senate and Assembly leadership.”

(c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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