Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is redistricting?

A: Redistricting is the process of redrawing the lines of districts from which public officials are elected. Redistricting occurs every ten years after the Census and affects all elections that use districts, whether for members of Congress, state or county legislatures, city councils, etc. The purpose of redrawing the district maps is to rebalance the districts to reflect population changes.


Q: Why is it important?

A: How district lines are drawn influences who runs for public office and who is elected. Elected representatives make important decisions in our lives, from ensuring funding for schools and hospitals to adopting immigration policies. Who lives in a district can influence whether elected officials feel obligated to respond to a community’s needs. District boundaries are in place for ten years, and their policy impacts can last well beyond that.


Q: When does the redistricting process happen?

A: After each new Census report has been completed, all levels of district lines are redrawn. The New York State legislative and congressional districts, as well as the Onondaga County legislative districts, are close to the end of their redistricting processes. The Syracuse Common Council redistricting is currently starting.

The Syracuse Redistricting Commission will be holding public meetings this Spring to present revised maps by July 2022.


Q: Who decides the new maps?

A: Each locality decides its own process. Under a Common Council ordinance, the new maps for the Syracuse Common Council will be drawn by the Syracuse City Redistricting Commission, a non-partisan commission of 15 city residents. These 15 city residents were chosen from a pool of volunteers. The first eight members were drawn at random, then these eight filled out the Commission making sure to represent the city as fully as possible.


After three months of public hearings to hear from community members about where the district lines should be drawn, the Redistricting Commission will submit the proposed maps to the Common Council in July 2022. The Common Council will vote on whether to approve the Commission’s submitted maps. If they do not approve the maps, the Commission will revise them and re-submit. Click to see the ordinance:


Q: What must the Commission members consider when drawing the district maps?

A: First and foremost, they must adhere to the principle of one person, one vote. In other words, the idea is that individuals should have equal representation in voting, with each vote counting the same. This means that each Common Council district should have the same number of residents, or as close as reasonably possible. The Commission members must also consider how to make sure that the districts:


  • Preserve Communities of Interest – A community of interest is a community, neighborhood, or group of people who have common concerns and traits and would benefit from staying together in a single district. This rule is one of the most important tools a community can use to preserve their community’s ability to remain in a single district, so that their voices can be heard loud and clear. (See the Voting Rights Act-VRA)
  • Are Compact – Compactness refers to the shape of the district. It describes boundaries that are drawn closely and neatly packed together unless there are good reasons, such as VRA compliance or following oddly shaped boundaries, like city boundaries or rivers.
  • Are Contiguous – Contiguity means that the boundaries of a district are a single, uninterrupted shape.
  • Follow Existing Political Subdivisions and/or Natural Boundaries – This means maps minimize splitting cities and counties, crossing natural or urban boundaries (highways, etc.).


Q: What is gerrymandering?

A: Gerrymandering is when district boundaries are drawn to manipulate electoral outcomes. There are two main ways to do this: “packing” communities into a single district to weaken their voting power when they would otherwise be an influential voting block across multiple districts, and “cracking” communities into several districts so they do not hold a majority in any one district.

In political gerrymandering, district lines are drawn to purposely advantage one political party over others. This can predetermine the outcome of elections, hindering voters from voicing their interests through their votes.

In racial gerrymandering, district lines are drawn to attack the right to vote and dilute the influence of voters of color. In this case communities of color might be “packed” into a small number of districts or “cracked” into several districts, with the aim of weakening their voting power.


Q: Is redistricting different from reapportionment?

A: Technically, yes, but as a practical matter, no. Reapportionment in its most narrow, technical sense refers to the allocation of representatives to previously established voting areas, as when Congress allocates, or “apportions,” seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to the several states following the decennial census. But the terms reapportionment and redistricting are generally used interchangeably and refers to the entire process, at whatever level it takes place, of redrawing district lines after the census.


Q: What principles and values are the Syracuse Redistricting Commission committed to upholding?

A: Fairness. Redistricting is how we help each vote count equally. We want to ensure that the maps ensure that all voters have the same opportunities to elect their candidates of choice. This means that voters of color, or from other communities of interest, are represented in ways that allow their voices to be heard.

Transparency. This requires that we conduct the redistricting process with transparency and allow for meaningful public input in the redistricting process. The Commission will provide several ways for the public to provide input, including public meetings (in-person or virtual), social media, email, etc. There will be public meetings in each Common Council district, both before and after the Commission drafts maps, and the community’s input will be taken into account in revising the maps.


Q: When do the new district maps take effect?

A: We expect the new maps to be in effect for the next Common Council elections in November 2023.


Q: Where can I learn more?

A: Information and status updates will be posted on Syracuse’s Redistricting Commission webpage, Facebook page, Instagram, and the City of Syracuse’s webpage Additionally, we will regularly send updates to the media. If you are interested in receiving updates, please join our mailing list. Below are the links to follow our activities, get dates for public meetings, and find information on redistricting.


Q: When are your public meetings? Where will they be held?

A: The next public meetings will be:

Wednesday, July 20th 

5:30pm - 6:30pm 

South of I 690 - South Side Innovation Center

2610 S Salina St, Syracuse, NY 13205

Parking lot available in side lot next to Dunk & Bright Furniture.


Thursday, July 21st

5:30pm -6:30pm

North of I 690 - Northside Learning Center

501 Park St, Syracuse, NY 13203

Parking lot available in side lot next to center.


Q: How can I know more and stay updated?

A: Our social media handles and contact information are below.


Twitter: @syredistricting 

Instagram: @syredistricting 

Facebook: City of Syracuse Redistricting Commission



Phone: 315-448-8595