Let me let you in a little bit on my life: I just spent an hour crafting a blog post, with a bunch of numbers that I checked and double-checked twice (while also cursing the math gods), and went to press publish, and my computer sort of... hiccupped. And it was all gone.
I can't explain where this post went, but if it's anything like the explanation I got for the sudden disappearance of our pet bunny when I was 7, it's on a blog farm, where it can roam freely on a blog pasture with all its blog-post friends.
Anyhow, I'm going to give you the really quick and dirty rundown, and maybe this will be even better and even more concise.
State Senate Republicans are thinking about adding a 63rd district to the chamber, according to Ken Lovett of the New York Daily News.
That means that Republican Sens. Joe Griffo and Patty Ritchie will have to add fewer residents to their districts.
Imagine redistricting is like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. There's only a certain amount of marbles (residents) that the hippos (legislators whose districts are too small) can gobble up, and it's a zero-sum game. Mr. Griffo and Mrs. Ritchie both need to add residents (chomp up marbles), but many of the residents they gobble up to meet the minimum takes away a resident from the other.
That puts quite a bit of pressure on both Republicans — where do they go? They can't go north into Canada. And Mrs. Ritchie can't expand east, say, Lewis County, without cutting into Mr. Griffo's territory, which also needs to find residents. Ibid for Mr. Griffo expanding west into more of St. Lawrence.
But what if we made it so that they didn't have to gobble up so many residents?
That's what a plan that would give the state Senate 63 districts would do. Here's why: Right now, there are 62 districts, so each senator gets 1/62nd of the state's population. But if there are 63 districts, they'll get 1/63rd. That's a smaller number, for all you math-haters out there. Mrs. Ritchie and Mr. Griffo are already under the constitutionally-mandated minimum for population in their districts, because of upstate's comparatively anemic population growth (and in some cases, straight up decline). So with 63 districts, that minimum is lower — closer to where they're at right now.
For Mrs. Ritchie, that means she'd have to add 664 residents in a 63-district scenario, instead of the roughly 5,00 that she has to add with 62 districts.
For Mr. Griffo, it means adding about 2,700, instead of 6,800.
The wholesale expansion that we thought we'd see, especially with prisoners being counted elsewhere, may not be so expansive after all. This could mean the difference between Mrs. Ritchie losing Republican-strong Oswego County and not losing it; the difference between having to add Democratic-friendly Potsdam into the mix and not having to add it into the mix.
The redistricting process — completed every 10 years to account for the state's population shifts — is playing out as we speak. And not many people know exactly what's going on. By hook or crook, it has to be done sometime early next year.