NY Dems Will Control Redistricting After Bipartisan Panel Fails

ballot proposals
Voters fill out ballots in booths after waiting several hours in line during early voting in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Joseph Ax

New York State’s bipartisan redistricting commission has failed to reach consensus on a new congressional map, ensuring that the state’s Democratic lawmakers will redraw district lines in a process that could affect control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections.

The panel had until Tuesday to vote on a map to send to state legislators. Instead, Democratic and Republican commissioners exchanged accusations of political bias in dueling statements on Monday that made it clear no agreement would be forthcoming.

“We have negotiated with our Republican colleagues in good faith for two years to achieve a single consensus plan,” the Democratic members said. “At every step, they have refused to agree to a compromise.”

Republican commissioners said the Democrats had deliberately refused to negotiate.

“They purposely scuttled the process so that the determination of district lines would be tossed back to a legislature controlled by Democrat super-majorities,” they wrote.

U.S. states must redraw congressional lines once a decade to reflect shifts in population. In most states, lawmakers control redistricting, which can lead to gerrymandering, the process by which one party manipulates district lines to entrench its own power.

With Republicans already having passed advantageous maps in key states such as Georgia and Texas, New York represents the best opportunity for Democrats to use their control of a state legislature to swing a handful of seats in their favor.

Democrats currently hold 19 of the state’s 27 congressional seats. The state will have 26 seats in the 2022 election cycle, and analysts say an aggressively gerrymandered map could eliminate as many as five Republican seats.

Democrats have a narrow 222-212 edge in the U.S. House, with one vacancy.

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.