Between the lines

Shifting Assembly and Senate districts sow confusion for primaries

The city’s official map shows current legislative district lines — not the districts candidates are running in.

The polls are about to open for primary day, but the city’s official online map, known as NYCityMap, is not quite ready for the assignment. Until this afternoon, voters who tried to look up state Assembly and Senate districts via the New York City Campaign Finance Board’ “NYC Votes!” map were directed to NYCityMap – and district lines that apply to current members, but not to candidates on the ballot tomorrow and in November.

Tomorrow’s elections are the first to use new district lines developed in a redistricting process tied to the 2010 census, and approved earlier this year by the state legislature. The city’s map, which is maintained by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT), still uses the old district lines – the ones that define the districts served by members currently in office.

The use of the old district lines tripped up the city’s Campaign Finance Board and Gotham Gazette, both of which linked to the city’s maps in their voter guides. Gotham Gazette has since relinked to maps made available by the Center for Urban Research, and the Campaign Finance Board has done the same. The maps on the Center for Urban Research website were developed by Steve Romalewski in partnership with The New York World earlier this year.

Its unclear if the missing information from the city’s maps will cause voter confusion. A spokesperson for the Campaign Finance Board noted that the agency’s voter guide links to The Board of Elections’ poll site locator, which allows voters to find the address of their poling place.

According to DOITT spokesperson Nick Sbordone, updating the city’s map is a complicated process.  “There’s additional work that has to be done once we get the data,” said Sbordone, noting that DOITT has to integrate the new legislative boundaries with other data in order to maintain the map’s interactive functions.  “It takes some programming work.”  Sbordone said the map will be updated by the end of the week.

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  1. This story is misleading and factually incorrect. The political districts shown on NYCityMap correspond to in-office elected officials. For that reason, they are valid and correct. In fact the link from the Campaign Finance Board was for Who’s My Elected Official.

    The new districts are for this coming election (i.e., those to be elected). NYCityMap is not used for the election. For that residents are directed to the DoITT hoseted and developed Pollsite Locator (, which utilizes the new political districts.

    When the newly elected officials start their terms, the political districts on NYCityMap will be updated. I hope this clears things up.

    • Just a note to clarify Colin’s reply. He writes that “the link from the Campaign Finance Board was for Who’s My Elected Official.” I’m not sure what that means – there’s no “Who’s My Elected Official” option at the Board’s website. The link from the Campaign Finance Board website was directly from the Board’s 2012 Primary Voter Guide (, and the link was intended to show a map of the district corresponding to each Senate or Assembly election. These new districts are not just for the “coming election” as Colin puts it. They are for *today’s* primary election. The Campaign Finance Board was hoping to send people to maps of the new, redistricted boundaries, but the Citymap application didn’t show those.

      As Colin notes, the Citymap site shows the maps for current districts, which is helpful to know which districts you used to vote in, or what the districts look like for outgoing legislators. (As an aside, I don’t see any factual problems with The New York World article. It clearly states that DoITT’s map shows lines “that define the districts served by members currently in office,” as Colin acknowledges.)

      The poll site locator, which is an absolutely terrific online service provided by the city, is great for determining where to vote. But if you’ve become accustomed to voting in a certain district for, say, the past 10 years, it’s helpful to know how the new district lines compare with the old ones.

      However you look at it, we’re glad our team at the CUNY Graduate Center was able to provide online map links for the Campaign Finance Board that show the old and the new districts side by side (or as interactive overlays), so people can easily see how the lines have changed. We think that will be of most help to potential voters, combined with the city’s excellent poll site locator service.