Nassau County's 19 legislative districts have been redrawn. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa and reporter Candice Ferette discuss the impact it will have on voters and elected officials. Credit: Newsday

Nassau County legislators on Feb. 27 adopted a new map that redraws the boundaries of all 19 legislative districts to allow for population changes reflected in the 2020 census. 

The decennial redrawing of the county's districts could impact the balance of power in the legislature and how community issues are prioritized. 

Here's what to know: 

It's required by the U.S. Constitution, the New York State Constitution and federal courts. 

Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census, the lines of districts in which public officials are elected must be reapportioned to reflect population changes.

Fair redistricting also takes into consideration demographic shifts such as changes to the racial makeup of communities, voting trends and the performance of political parties in past election cycles.

Under the redistricting plan, each of the 19 districts will have about 72,500 residents.

 

Last year, the lines for New York's congressional and state legislative districts were redrawn.

But county redistricting occurs separately from state redistricting. Each county government determines its process for redistricting.

Some counties won't undergo redistricting at all, while others must adhere more strictly to standards outlined by the state.

Nassau is a "chartered county" and in many ways has the independence to dictate its own process and sometimes supersede state law.

However, the state in 2021 adopted new standards Nassau's new map must comply with. 

Those standards include:

Creation of districts that are close to equal size, The difference between a district with the largest population and the smallest can be no more than 5%, , Not denying racial or language minority groups the ability to participate in the political process or diminishing their ability to elect representatives of their choice, , Forming contiguous districts that do not favor incumbents or any political party or candidate, .

Many of the new state and federal laws did not exist when Nassau County in 2013 adopted the legislative map that has been in use for the past 10 years.

As required by the county charter, the legislature created an 11-member Temporary Districting Advisory Commission last April.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) each appointed five members, and County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, appointed one nonvoting chairman.

The commission held 12 public meetings across the county beginning in August.

The panel hired mapmakers and political science and legal experts to testify and help them create two maps — one endorsed by the Republican-appointed members and another endorsed by the Democratic-appointed members.

But the commission failed to agree on one map to advance to the county legislature.

The legislature, with a 12-7 Republican majority, reviewed both maps and the work of the redistricting commission.

But the legislature ultimately drew its own map that was similar to the Republican-drawn map and included some Democratic input. It was adopted on Feb. 27. 

Both Democrats and Republicans on the county legislature have accused each other of partisan gerrymandering. 

Democrats say the map adopted Feb. 27 violates state and federal laws because it breaks up certain minority communities, diluting their voting power and ability to elect representatives of their choice. 

Republicans argue they incorporated several suggestions from Democrats. But they said they couldn't adopt all the Democrats' ideas, while keeping each district as close to equal population size as possible. 

Barring a legal challenge, candidates will run in the new districts  in this November's election.

Petitions for candidates who intend to run are due next month. 

Some districts have changed significantly, and in the past week, three Republican caucus members have announced they will not seek reelection: Nicolello, Legis. Denise Ford, an enrolled Democrat who caucuses with the GOP, and Legis. Laura Schaeffer (R-Westbury). 

All told Newsday they had decided not to seek reelection before the new map was adopted.

Nicolello's new district now includes Floral Park and all of New Hyde Park.

Ford's adds Oceanside and loses the Five Towns.

Schaeffer's district was largely absorbed into Westbury Democratic Legis. Siela Bynoe's new district. 

Two Democratic incumbents — Legis. Arnold Drucker and Legis. Josh Lafazan — have been put into the same district.

Drucker told Newsday he plans to continue living in the 16th District and run for reelection.

Lafazan (D-Syosset) has said he will run in a new, neighboring district which contains 80% of the territory of his old district.

Also, the villages and hamlets that make up the Five Towns on the South Shore now are entirely in the district of Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence). Kopel, who is serving his seventh term, is the legislature's deputy presiding officer.

During public hearings throughout the redistricting process, the 6,000-resident community of Lakeview, a hamlet in the Town of Hempstead, has been among those most vocally opposed to its new district lines.

Residents there have objected to being placed into a neighboring district that leans Republican; the previous map showed Lakeview as a Democratic-leaning district that is more racially diverse.

Nassau County legislators on Feb. 27 adopted a new map that redraws the boundaries of all 19 legislative districts to allow for population changes reflected in the 2020 census. 

The decennial redrawing of the county's districts could impact the balance of power in the legislature and how community issues are prioritized. 

Here's what to know: 

Why did Nassau County draw new districts? 

It's required by the U.S. Constitution, the New York State Constitution and federal courts. 

What to know

  • Nassau County legislators on Feb. 27 adopted a new map that realigns boundaries to allow for population changes reflected in the 2020 census. 
  • Barring a legal challenge, the new districts will be used to determine the November 2023 election.
  • The redrawing of the county's districts could impact the balance of power on the 19-member legislature and how community issues are prioritized. 

Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census, the lines of districts in which public officials are elected must be reapportioned to reflect population changes.

Fair redistricting also takes into consideration demographic shifts such as changes to the racial makeup of communities, voting trends and the performance of political parties in past election cycles.

Under the redistricting plan, each of the 19 districts will have about 72,500 residents.

 

How does redistricting work?

Last year, the lines for New York's congressional and state legislative districts were redrawn.

But county redistricting occurs separately from state redistricting. Each county government determines its process for redistricting.

Some counties won't undergo redistricting at all, while others must adhere more strictly to standards outlined by the state.

Nassau is a "chartered county" and in many ways has the independence to dictate its own process and sometimes supersede state law.

However, the state in 2021 adopted new standards Nassau's new map must comply with. 

Those standards include:

  • Creation of districts that are close to equal size. The difference between a district with the largest population and the smallest can be no more than 5%.
  • Not denying racial or language minority groups the ability to participate in the political process or diminishing their ability to elect representatives of their choice.
  • Forming contiguous districts that do not favor incumbents or any political party or candidate.

Many of the new state and federal laws did not exist when Nassau County in 2013 adopted the legislative map that has been in use for the past 10 years.

What did Nassau do? 

As required by the county charter, the legislature created an 11-member Temporary Districting Advisory Commission last April.

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) each appointed five members, and County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, appointed one nonvoting chairman.

The commission held 12 public meetings across the county beginning in August.

The panel hired mapmakers and political science and legal experts to testify and help them create two maps — one endorsed by the Republican-appointed members and another endorsed by the Democratic-appointed members.

But the commission failed to agree on one map to advance to the county legislature.

The legislature, with a 12-7 Republican majority, reviewed both maps and the work of the redistricting commission.

But the legislature ultimately drew its own map that was similar to the Republican-drawn map and included some Democratic input. It was adopted on Feb. 27. 

What's the political fallout?

Both Democrats and Republicans on the county legislature have accused each other of partisan gerrymandering. 

Democrats say the map adopted Feb. 27 violates state and federal laws because it breaks up certain minority communities, diluting their voting power and ability to elect representatives of their choice. 

Republicans argue they incorporated several suggestions from Democrats. But they said they couldn't adopt all the Democrats' ideas, while keeping each district as close to equal population size as possible. 

Barring a legal challenge, candidates will run in the new districts  in this November's election.

Petitions for candidates who intend to run are due next month. 

Some districts have changed significantly, and in the past week, three Republican caucus members have announced they will not seek reelection: Nicolello, Legis. Denise Ford, an enrolled Democrat who caucuses with the GOP, and Legis. Laura Schaeffer (R-Westbury). 

All told Newsday they had decided not to seek reelection before the new map was adopted.

Nicolello's new district now includes Floral Park and all of New Hyde Park.

Ford's adds Oceanside and loses the Five Towns.

Schaeffer's district was largely absorbed into Westbury Democratic Legis. Siela Bynoe's new district. 

Two Democratic incumbents — Legis. Arnold Drucker and Legis. Josh Lafazan — have been put into the same district.

Drucker told Newsday he plans to continue living in the 16th District and run for reelection.

Lafazan (D-Syosset) has said he will run in a new, neighboring district which contains 80% of the territory of his old district.

Also, the villages and hamlets that make up the Five Towns on the South Shore now are entirely in the district of Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence). Kopel, who is serving his seventh term, is the legislature's deputy presiding officer.

During public hearings throughout the redistricting process, the 6,000-resident community of Lakeview, a hamlet in the Town of Hempstead, has been among those most vocally opposed to its new district lines.

Residents there have objected to being placed into a neighboring district that leans Republican; the previous map showed Lakeview as a Democratic-leaning district that is more racially diverse.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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