The district lines, once finalized, will be put in place through 2032 and could have huge implications for political power in New York and nationally, particularly when it comes to the congressional lines.
New York’s allotment of congressional seats is due to decline from 27 to 26 in this year’s election cycle. And whether Democrats or Republicans can make gains in the state could help determine which party wins control of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democrats currently have a 221-212 advantage.
As it stands, Democrats hold 19 of New York’s 27 congressional districts as well as large majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.
Now, it will be up to the state Legislature to decide whether to accept either plan, which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate and Assembly. And it could ultimately open the door for lawmakers to draw the lines themselves.
If lawmakers accept one of the plans, Governor Kathy Hochul would get the chance to sign or veto them. If lawmakers reject both plans, the commission would get a second chance to draw the lines. If the Legislature were to reject those lines, lawmakers themselves could make changes that, in theory, could be drawn to benefit one party or the other.
There’s also a major time crunch.
The congressional and state legislative district lines are due to be in place for the 2022 election cycle. Petitioning to get on the ballot for the June 28th primary is expected to begin in March, meaning final district maps would have to be in place before then.
“The race now is against time to hold a spring primary in June,” said Jeff Wice, senior fellow at New York Law School’s Census and Redistricting Institute. “The Legislature has to act quickly on the plans submitted (Monday).”
Political gerrymandering was the very thing the state’s new independent panel — implemented for the first time this redistricting cycle — was supposed to prevent.
Voters statewide approved the new process in 2014. It was put forward by lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a way to make redistricting more independent after years of lines being drawn to benefit one party or the other.
But the makeup of the independent commission quickly led to the potential for gridlock.
Of the panel’s 10 members, four are Republicans and four are Democrats appointed by legislative leaders. Those eight appointees then combined to pick the remaining two independent members, one of whom was allied with Democrats and the other with Republicans.
That cleared the way for Monday’s votes, which broke along party lines.
Wide portions of the Democrat and Republican congressional maps were similar.