ALBANY — Good-government groups have long said the secretive process by which political powers redraw their own election district lines could be more fairly done by anyone, even a kid.
Now, legislative leaders will see whether that's true.
In New York, Fordham University is holding a competition among students, including a 10-year-old Michigan child, to take on redistricting. The process has long been used to protect the majorities of the Senate and Assembly by stacking districts with communities that support an incumbent from the party in charge.
The effort includes a website, http://www.redistrictny.org, that allows the public to draw lines and submit the ideas to state lawmakers. It also allows viewers to see the process that uses census data to redraw congressional and legislative districts every 10 years.
The website, using free software developed at George Mason University, is the basis of college competitions that will also be used to try to shape the lines drawn for states. They're done by legislative leaders, governors who must approve the lines or courts where many disputed redistricting efforts are resolved.
Through the contest, Fordham's Center for Electoral Politics is trying to get the public more involved in the process.
In New York, the Senate's Republican majority and the Assembly's Democratic majority refused to create an independent redistricting commission as most of them had pledged in the 2010 elections. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is proposing a bipartisan, eight-member board of people who aren't lawmakers, but who are appointed by legislative leaders.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to veto any highly partisan plan, which would send the issue to the courts.
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