CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated which maps are accused of being gerrymandered. It is only the congressional maps. The error has been corrected.
ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Due to a loss in population, New York is losing one congressional seat and needs new district maps. A state supreme court judge in Steuben County ruled that the New York State redistricting maps were drawn with political bias favoring Democrats.
Before the Appellate Division in Rochester on Wednesday, Democrats in the New York State Legislature argued to appeal the decision that the congressional redistricting maps were gerrymandered. “We expect a ruling in this case to be given shortly within the next few days, and then it will go immediately to the state’s highest court, the state’s Court of Appeals,” said former Congressmember John Faso.
If the Court of Appeals agrees that the lines are in violation of the state constitution, the New York State Supreme Court has already retained a special master to prepare and draw a new non-partisan congressional map by May 16. In a statement, Dr. Jonathan Cervas—a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Politics and Strategy—said: “I am thrilled to assist the New York Courts in delivering constitutional maps that will provide equal representation for all New York residents for the next decade.”
Faso shared the significance of the lawsuit. “This is the very first time that any courts have considered the new constitutional amendment that the people adopted in 2014,” explained Faso. “When Justice McAllister threw out these lines as a partisan gerrymander, he also said the legislature violated the constitution in the procedures they used to enact this new legislative and congressional map. This will be the first time the Appellate Courts ever considered this question.”
The League of Women Voters thinks the New York State Constitution was violated. “We believe a decision should be made as to if this did violate the Constitution or not,” said Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New York State. “We believe the Court of Appeals is probably the right court to eventually make that determination.
Depending on the decision, there is a possibility that the primary for New York State Senate, Assembly, and Congress could be pushed from June to August.