The Fight for Fair Maps
Redistricting is a critical process that gives cities like ours a once-in-a-decade chance to redraw our district maps. It should be a process for the people, by the people. This year in Buffalo it’s been anything but…
A short timeline of events
The Common Council launches their redistricting page...after the first hearing
No meaningful information on the Commission or its work was made available prior to their first hearing on 5/18 (held just three days after the Tops Massacre while our city was actively mourning), giving the public no way to educate themselves about what the reapportionment process was, what the proposed maps were, why redistricting mattered to them, or how they could get involved.
The People Spoke, the Press Took Note
Throughout the redistricting process, the Buffalo press widely covered (and sided!) with Buffalo residents speaking out about the opaque and undemocratic redistricting process. Check out articles and segments in: The Buffalo News, Investigative Post, Spectrum News 1, Channel 7 News, Buffalo Rising, and WBFO.
“Politicians picked their constituents the last time lines were drawn. It's happening again. Activists and good government types are mobilizing."
"The critics are right. The Buffalo redistricting plan that was the focus of a public hearing on Tuesday should be thrown out and the work restarted."
OCAB's emphasis on public education
With zero public education about redistricting coming from City Hall, OCAB took it upon ourselves to bring people up to speed
Throughout the redistricting process, no information was given to Buffalo residents about what "reapportionment" or "redistricting" is, why it it important, or how it would affect our lives. Our City Action members filled the gap by creating accessible illustrated explainers (in both English and Spanish), providing an ongoing up-to-date stream of social posts and videos to keep people abreast of the process, and hosting a number of teach-ins for the public that featured experts who could answer resident's questions in real time.
OCAB produced a number of accessible, illustrated visual guides to help the public understand what redistricting is and why it matters.
Social Posts & Videos
OCAB also kept residents informed about the redistricting process via engaging videos to let them know how to get involved.
OCAB also hosted a number of accessible, online Teach-Ins that invited residents to speak with experts, ask questions, and find community.
For example, Dr. Russell Weaver, geographer and redistricting expert presented a thorough introduction, history, and breakdown of the redistricting process.
OCAB's proposed solution
OCAB didn't believe that just alerting the public to the process was enough, we also proposed an alternative plan.
Not only was the redistricting process lead by Buffalo's Common Council opaque and exclusionary, their proposed plan is also gerrymandered, inequitable and unjust. OCAB worked with redistricting experts like Dr. Russell Weaver to propose an alternative plan, which we iterated upon throughout the process because unlike the Common Council, we listened to, and collaborated with, our city's residents.
Their map vs. the People's Map
Review the Plan
Our City Action Buffalo and community researchers worked together to create an alternative plan to the "redrawn" maps adopted by the Buffalo Common Council. The first iteration of the plan received a groundswell of support. But we knew it could be better, and so did you! We’ve listened—at the 6/28 public hearing and beyond—and created an updated plan that incorporated the thoughtful feedback of residents across Buffalo. The revised plan is vastly better than the original because Our City’s residents know best when it comes to redistricting our city!