Orange County Hires Professional Firm to Redraw Legislative Districts

The Orange County Legislature passed a resolution on July 6 to hire Boston-based Applied Geographics to assist in its decennial redistricting process. 

Applied Geographics was picked out of four firms by a selection committee based on criteria such as qualifications, experience, timelines, and costs, according to a recent rules committee meeting. 

The firm has over 30 years of experience in providing geospatial solutions to businesses and local governments across the country, according to the company website.  

The contract costs the county around $80,000. 

Under the county charter, boundaries for legislative districts must be redrawn following each decennial U.S. census, with the last one being released in 2021. 

According to the census data, the county population rose by almost eight percent during the ten years between 2010 and 2020 to over 400,000. 

The county is divided into 21 districts, each represented by one legislator. 

Orange County legislators during a regular legislative session in Goshen, N.Y., on Dec. 1, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

The professional consulting firm was also retained in the backdrop of a recent state law that set a new threshold for population differences among county legislative districts. 

The law prescribes that, in the cases of single-member legislative districts like those in Orange County, population sizes shall be as same as practically allowed; any difference between the most and least populous districts in a county shall not exceed five percent of the mean district population. 

Whereas in the past, the difference could be up to 10 percent. 

It also says that county legislative districts shall not be drawn to deny or weaken the opportunities for minority groups to participate in the political process. 

New York State Senator James Skoufis, who represents most of Orange County, was the prime sponsor of the above legislation in the Senate two years ago. 

After the law became effective, an illegal redistricting map was passed in nearby Ulster County with a variance larger than five percent, according to a now-disposed lawsuit by several voters. 

The county planning commissioner presented erroneous information about the new state law to the redistricting commission before the passage of the illegal map, according to the lawsuit. 

A state judge ordered the county to produce a new map in compliance with the law last year. 

Orange County Democratic legislator Genesis Ramos said at the legislative meeting that she had confidence in the high caliber of Applied Geographics. 

“Their legal counsel is a nationally respected and recognized expert in redistricting,” Ramos said. “I have full faith and trust that we are moving in the right direction.” 

The selection committee members that picked the company included Republican County Legislature Chairwoman Katie Bonelli, Republican Majority Leader Tom Faggione, Democratic Minority Leader Mike Paduch, and members from the Conservative and Independence Party.


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