We're the grass in the redistricting field

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A third map — the most impartial and least incumbent-preservation-driven — was put forth by a coalition of good-government groups, including the League of Women Voters.

The County Legislature’s Rules Committee voted on Feb. 11, along party lines, to put a slightly revised GOP map up for a vote by the full Legislature, which is expected to happen on Feb. 25. The deadline for having a new map in place is March 5, and the new districts take effect for this November’s elections.

The Republican map that is likely to be approved is nothing less than a disenfranchisement of your vote. Legitimate elections are based on the fundamental concept that citizens can freely choose who will represent them. When incumbent politicians rearrange the map so that they choose whom they will represent — i.e., which residents get to vote for them, and which residents are exiled from their districts because of the incumbents’ fear of defeat — it turns the process on its head, making so many votes meaningless.

It’s not reasonable to expect the majority Republicans to approve any map other than one that’s most favorable to their long-term political interests. If the Democrats take charge after the next census, they would no doubt try to solidify and expand their support.

That’s why redistricting shouldn’t be left to politicians. The best plan — the one that put voters ahead of politicians — was devised by the coalition of groups of concerned citizens. But that plan had as much chance of being heard as a sparrow in a field of elephants and donkeys.

Until we can change the law, we should raise our voices. Call your county legislator, regardless of his or her party, and let him or her know that you strongly object to being disenfranchised, and that you’re well aware that this cynical district-splitting serves no other purpose than to empower incumbents rather than voters.

And we can withhold our votes from the politicians who promise independent redistricting and break those promises as soon as they get elected. Let’s all remember their names come Election Day, and support their opponents.

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