Redistrict New York

Latest Updates:

  • May 16, 2022 — Special master Jonathan Cervas published his proposed congressional and senate maps for review. Final maps will be issued by May 20.
  • April 27, 2022 — The New York State Court of Appeals declares both the congressional and senate maps void.
  • April 26, 2022 — The New York State Court of Appeals heard oral arguments.
  • April 21, 2022 — The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Rochester ruled that New York Democrats engaged in unconstitutional gerrymandering when drawing new congressional seats. 

In 2014, New York voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution to create an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) so the next redistricting process would produce fair and non-partisan maps. When that process played out, the IRC and the State Legislature failed to deliver. The process and outcome are now in the hands of a court-appointed special master.

Next Steps

As part of the IRC’s initial work, it solicited input from residents, community and interest groups. Hundreds of comments and testimony were submitted and over 100 maps were submitted to the IRC for consideration. Among those were a set of maps created by the Empire Center for New York’s congressional, senate, and assembly districts. Those maps were drawn in full accordance with the Voting Rights Act; seek to keep county, town, and city borders intact; are compact; and they are politically neutral. Those maps were also independently reviewed and evaluated by neutral experts.

On April 18, 2022, New York State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister appointed a special master to create neutral, non-partisan Congressional maps. Final maps will be issued by May 24, 2022.

Interested parties were invited to submit maps to the court for consideration by April 22, 2022. We implore those in charge to use our suggestions (or any of the multiple uploaded to the IRC website throughout this process) to guide their work and provide fair, non-partisan redistricting maps.

Summary of legal challenge:

Supreme Court – On March 31, Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister ruled that:

  • based on the process used to enact the maps, the congressional, senate and assembly maps were unconstitutional and void; and
  • that the petitioner had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the congressional maps were enacted with political bias, violating a constitutional prohibition against gerrymandering and therefore are unconstitutional.

Justice McAllister gave the Legislature until April 11 to submit new “bipartisanly” supported maps for review, if they failed to do so the decision outlined the process for a court-appointed special master to take over the process. The Legislature failed to deliver maps by that date.

Appellate Division – The lower court decision was appealed to the Appellate Division and on April 8, Justice Stephen Lindley ordered a temporary stay, which allows the election process to continue moving forward ahead of a decision on the appeal. On April 21, 2022, the Appellate Division in Rochester ruled that the Legislature’s congressional map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The Appellate Division, however, determined that the process used to enact the congressional, senate and assembly maps was not unconstitutional. It gave the Legislature an April 30th deadline for enacting a constitutional replacement congressional map.

Court of Appeals – The Court of Appeals issued an expedited briefing schedule and heard oral arguments on April 26, 2022.

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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