An AP story in this morning's USA Today highlights Missouri's impending loss of a congressional seat but also mentions that, given current trends, New York stands to lose two.
This is obviously bad news in terms of New York's clout in the House of Representatives, yet it also presents a ripe opportunity for redistricting reform.
In addition to considering how populations have shifted within the state, those charged with drawing the lines must figure out how to carve 27 districts out of a state that previously had 29. As in the past (New York has lost at least one seat in each of the last six census counts), this means that we will have to go through another round of political wrangling to decide whose districts will be eliminated and how that territory will be divided up. Inevitably, partisan and incumbent motives will take precedence over fairness and representation of real communities.
That is, unless we get serious about redistricting reform. Proposals like Governor Spitzer's independent commission plan would take the redistricting pen out of the hands self- and party-interested politicians.
New York deserves a redistricting process that suppresses politics and power in favor of the values of redistricting reform: counting the population and redrawing the district lines in a way that is equitable, fair, and sensitive to diversity. We should not let another census go by before we fundamentally improve the way districts are drawn in our state.