A Review Of New York’s Redistricting Process

New York’s train wreck of a redistricting process has reached the end of the line when it comes to the creation of congressional district maps and New York State Senate district maps. As far as the New York State Assembly is concerned, stay tuned.

On May 21, 2022, Steuben County Acting Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister released a final, court-approved set of congressional and New York State Senate maps. The court’s action followed a late April decision in which the New York Court of Appeals held that the maps drawn by the New York State Legislature’s Democratic majorities were unconstitutional.

As a headline in The Wall Street Journal puts it, “New York’s Redistricting Has Caused a ‘Train Wreck of Democrats’ Own Creation.’” At present, Democrats hold an 18-7 enrollment advantage in New York’s congressional delegation (two seats are currently vacant, as Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado stepped down to become Lieutenant Governor of New York and Republican Rep. Tom Reed resigned to take a new job). New York lost one seat in the House following the 2020 census, leaving a total of 26 seats in New York’s congressional delegation going forward. Under the Democrats’ gerrymandered maps, the Democrats expected to win 22 of 26 congressional seats this fall. According to Politico, under the court-approved maps, Democrats hold enrollment advantages in 21 of the 26 congressional districts, but their advantages in each district are not as large as they would have been under the gerrymandered maps. Politico rates 16 of the new congressional districts as “strong Biden,” three of the new districts as “strong Trump,” and seven of the new districts as “competitive.”

The release of the new maps has led to a chaotic spectacle. Some incumbent lawmakers (for example, longtime Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler of Manhattan and State Sens. Daphne Jordan (R-Halfmoon) and Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville)) will be running against other incumbents from their own parties this fall. Others will be seeking election in November in districts in which they do not reside. For example, freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-White Plains), a Democrat representing District 17 in the lower Hudson Valley, has chosen to seek election in the 10th congressional district in Manhattan after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney opted to seek election in District 17. Also, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Albany) will seek re-election in New York’s 20th congressional district, but his current home will be located in New York’s 21st district. Similarly, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) will seek re-election in the 21st congressional district even though her current home has been shifted into District 20. Still others, like State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) have chosen to retire to avoid having to run for election in November in districts that are dramatically different from their current districts. For a look at the new maps, please click here and here.

At this time, primaries in statewide races and in New York State Assembly races are scheduled for June 28, 2022, while primaries in congressional and State Senate races have been rescheduled to August 23, 2022. There is a chance that this schedule could change, however; a May 15 lawsuit has challenged the constitutionality of New York’s new Assembly maps.

This year’s redistricting fiasco has made one thing clear: New York needs to amend the state constitution again to create a nonpartisan redistricting process that actually works.