Since the Independent Redistricting Commission was unable to compromise on final redistricting maps, the process is officially in the hands of the state Legislature. Last Thursday, Democrats who represent New York conferenced on the maps. They released congressional maps for the state—which propose the districts represented in U.S. Congress—late Sunday, and the state Assembly and state Senate passed the them yesterday with votes of 103-45 and 43-20, respectively. The Assembly and Senate maps also have been released.
What changes does the new map make?
When you compare the current congressional map to the one drawn by the state legislative Democrats, it would likely boost the number of seats for the Democratic Party. There are multiple theories about how many seats the Democrats could win in 2022, because there is no guarantee a Democrat would win a district—based on these newly configured districts—even if they do have an advantage when it comes to voter enrollment. This is especially true in a midterm election (and 2022 is a midterm election year) when the party of the sitting president historically loses seats.
One of the most obvious changes in the proposed congressional maps is to the boundaries in the District 22, currently held by Republican Rep. Claudia Tenny. If the maps are signed into law, the district would be divided into the surrounding ones. This change would lead to increases in the sizes of Districts 21, 23 and 24, which are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed and John Katko, respectively. The proposal for District 22 would be much more urban with the more rural—usually conservative—areas pushed into those surrounding districts currently held by Republicans.
There were also large changes to districts on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley/Westchester areas.
The new proposed maps for the Assembly and Senate are harder to examine—especially the Assembly map, since there is no statewide map.
However, based on the proposed Senate maps, there would be some clear changes due to shifts in population. If you compare the New York City maps from 2012 and the proposed maps, there would be many boundary changes in the Senate districts, and some would be less compact than they are now. You can see similar proposed changes in some of the Upstate districts, along with some drastic shifts in district lines, also due to population shifts.
Is this the final say?
The state Legislature passing the maps it drew is not the final step. The maps—just like all other legislation passed by the Legislature—must now go to the governor for her signature. Gov. Kathy Hochul has the right to veto the maps, which would require the Legislature to make further changes. If Hochul signs the maps, that is not the final say either. If individuals, interest groups or even lawmakers think the maps violate any one of various state and federal constitutional and statutory requirements for district lines, they could challenge the maps in court.
A court challenge is not unlikely because, as early as Sunday night, there were accusations that the congressional districts in the proposed map were gerrymandered in favor of the Democrats. If you compare the current and proposed maps, these claims are not without cause.
First, the proposed maps do move conservative areas into districts already held by Republicans.
Second, it also has some questionable lines: District 25 is surrounded by District 24, given the tiny strip that connects the eastern and westerns portions of that district, and District 10 couldn’t be any thinner to connect two areas of New York City. To see the proposed changes to districts in New York City, zoom in on this map.
Finally, the districts have split some counties into different districts, something that is normally avoided.
If the lines are challenged in court, New York would join a growing list of states that have had their redistricting maps challenged, including Alabama, Ohio and Texas.
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