New York’s election maps were thrown into disarray on Thursday, according to The Daily Mail, when a judge on the state Supreme Court ordered Democrats to go back to the drawing board and work with Republicans.
The new maps were signed into law in February as a result of the census, which occurs every ten years and provides an opportunity to redraw voting districts to correspond. Its purpose is to allow for the correction of demographic variations, ensuring that each district has the same population as the rest of the state’s congressional districts.
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In fact, it’s frequently a contentious process in which Democrats and Republicans compete to alter electoral districts in their favor.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, and Washington are among the nine states that have independent commissions to decide on the maps. However, the independent committee in New York became mired in squabbles, with Democratic and Republican members unable to reach an agreement.
As a result, the Democrats, who now have a governorship and supermajorities in both the State Senate and Assembly for the first time in decades, have practically unrestricted power.
The resultant map, which was adopted in February, will bring more change to the state than any other in the country. The maps altering lines on Long Island, in New York City, and upstate may put as many as four incumbent House Republicans in jeopardy.
The adjustments were examined by the website Five Thirty Eight. Similar Democratic advantages were projected in the State Senate redistricting. From the existing map, three Democratic-leaning districts would be added, three Republican-leaning seats would be lost, and one very contested seat would be lost.
If the plan survives its court challenge, Democrats are poised to flip the open Republican-held 1st and 22nd districts, as well as Nicole Malliotakis’ 11th District seat, which includes Staten Island, New York City’s lone Republican district. ‘It’s evident to all that Albany Democrats redrew our district to skew the scales and steal our seat,’ Malliotakis tweeted.
It’s not only bad, but it’s also against the law in our state.’ The New York Supreme Court agreed today. We are delighted by the court’s decision and eagerly anticipate the new district maps.’
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who now serves as chairman of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, called it “shameful.” ‘The New York Democrats should be embarrassed of what they tried to do here,’ he added.
State Supreme Court Justice Patrick F. McAllister said Democrats were employing techniques that Republicans had been chastised for, and termed gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing boundaries to gain political advantage, a “scourge” on democracy.
The judge, a Republican from a small upstate county, concluded in his judgment, “The court finds by clear evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt that the congressional map was unconstitutionally created with political prejudice.” ‘Discrimination based on gerrymandering harms everyone since it tends to marginalize minority views.’ ‘We injure not only others but ourselves when we choose to overlook the rewards of compromise.’ He gave Democrats until April 11 to come up with new ‘bipartisan supported maps.’
Should they fall flat, McAllister said he will appoint an independent special master to draw the ballots, increasing the potential that candidates who have already begun campaigning might be stuck in limbo for weeks and that the June primaries could be postponed. Most commentators predicted that the Democrats would challenge McAllister’s decision, which would find a receptive ear in the Democrat-controlled appellate courts. Governor Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James both stated that they will appeal the decision.
“This is one stage in the process,” said Michael Murphy, a spokesman for the State Senate Democrats. ‘We were always expecting the appeal courts to decide on this.’ Redrawing electoral district boundaries has spurred controversy in several states ahead of the November elections, which Democrats worry may result in them losing significant territory to Republicans.
The courts in Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida are hearing arguments. At the start of this year’s redistricting, Republicans seemed to be on track to gain as many as 10 seats throughout the country. However, courts have overturned other GOP maps, including those in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Democratic maps are also being challenged in court, which may help Republicans regain the upper hand. Maryland’s map was also dismissed by a state court only days before New York’s map was overturned. In Maryland, Democrats are projected to lose only one seat; New York is a significantly greater prize.
However, not everyone believes that the Empire State’s map is doomed. Before the New York judgment, Shawn Donahue, a University of Buffalo redistricting specialist, observed that courts in New York have historically been hesitant to participate in political disputes — and that all of the judges on the state’s highest court were selected by Democratic governors. He doubts Republicans will prevail in the inevitable appeals that will follow the verdict.