ITHACA, N.Y. — New York’s primary elections have hit another possible bump in the road. Thursday when a Steuben County judge ruled that the recently drawn New York State senate, assembly, and congressional districts were gerrymandered and unconstitutional.
WSKG reported that Acting State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister delivered an 18-page ruling, ordering New York state legislators to redraw its districts with bipartisan support.
However, the decision has already been stayed pending appeal. Filing periods will remain the same for candidates running for office in the current districts.
In his decision, McCallister wrote that the maps were “enacted with political bias and thus in violation of constitutional prohibition against gerrymandering.”
The maps make an additional three congressional districts winnable for democrats in the state of New York. Based on the maps passed by the state legislature, Democrats seem poised to win 22 of New York’s 26 congressional districts in this coming election.
These new maps are due on April 11. If the legislators don’t meet this deadline, McCallister wrote that an independent and neutral expert will be hired by the court to redraw the maps.
But Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James announced that they will be appealing the decision. The decision, coming out of right leaning Steuben County, is not a surprise to Democrats. The case will go to the New York State Court of Appeals, which is where Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy wrote is where, “we always knew this case would be decided…”
McCallister suggested that the election calendar be suspended, which would create chaos in what has already been a confusing and abnormal primary.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the results of the 2020 census, which delayed the work of the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). The IRC then released two sets of maps; then following a public input tour, the commission ultimately was unable to come to consensus, putting the map drawing process in the hands of the Democratic-controlled state legislature — hence the maps being ruled against.
UPDATE (04/01/2022): Judge Patrick McCallister’s ruling on New York’s district maps was stayed before this article was originally published, but that information was not originally included with publication.