What's next after NY's top court gives independent commission the power to redraw congressional lines
The New York Independent Redistricting Commission, a panel of five Democrats and five Republicans, is back to the drawing board to map out new congressional lines for New York to use in 2024.
The process was restarted this week following a ruling from the New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday that found the map drawn by a special master last year was only meant to be a temporary fix.
Commission Chair and Westchester Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins expressed optimism that the two sides will be able to compromise on a fair set of lines.
"There's going to be bumps in the road, and we have gone through those bumps, and I'm confident working with our Republican colleagues...that we'll be able to work through this process," he said.
The lines used during the 2022 midterms were put in place by a special master after the state's top court struck down the previous Democratic-controlled Legislature-drawn maps in the spring of 2022. The legislature drew the lines, which heavily favored Democratic candidates after the commission disagreed on a set of balanced maps on time.
The special master's lines led to big wins for Republicans during the midterms, including flipping four seats previously held by Democrats.
The commission has until Feb. 28, 2024, to submit new House maps to the state Legislature. Once again, state lawmakers would have the power to draw their lines if the commission cannot agree just like in 2022.
Jeffrey Wice, New York Law School adjunct professor and senior fellow at the New York Census and Redistricting Institute, said it's sensible for both parties to agree with everyone at the table to avoid future lawsuits, delays and confusion.
"If the Democrats are looking at picking up a few seats and if they're looking at being fair to the Republicans and avoiding a further lawsuit, then it's in the best interest of everyone in the state to get a bipartisan plan before the Legislature," said redistricting expert Jeffrey Wice.
Attorneys for the Republican side promised to challenge any maps drawn by the commission or Legislature that they feel are gerrymandered to give Democrats an advantage.
Jenkins would not commit to any hard deadlines on the process beyond the end of February date set by the court but said he expects it to move on time.