New York Democrats Reject Commission’s Proposed Congressional Map

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic majority in the New York Legislature today voted against adopting a new map for the Empire State’s 26 congressional districts, drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). 

In a 40-17 vote, the state Senate voted against adopting the map proposed by the IRC. Later, the New York Assembly voted down the map in a 99-46 vote. POLITICO reports that state Democrats will propose their own new map, slightly altered from the one drawn by the IRC. In December 2023, New York’s highest court — the New York Court of Appeals — ordered the IRC to draw a new congressional map before the 2024 elections. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed on behalf of voters after the IRC deadlocked in drawing a new map in January of 2022, as part of its required redistricting duties mandated by a 2014 voter-approved constitutional amendment. After the deadlock, the Legislature stepped in and passed their own congressional map, but the lawsuit asked the IRC to “fulfill their constitutional duty” in submitting their own map to the Legislature for consideration.

On Feb. 15, the IRC in a 9-1 vote passed their map on to the Legislature for its consideration. Under the IRC map, which was deemed the “consensus plan,” control of the state’s congressional delegation would not shift significantly. The New York congressional delegation currently consists of 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the House — Democrats will gain one more member after Tom Suozzi, who was elected to fill the seat of disgraced Republican congressman George Santos, is sworn in on Wednesday. 

The IRC’s map “appears to enhance Democrats’ prospects of gaining Brandon Williams’s 22nd District in Syracuse and keeping Pat Ryan’s 18th District in the Hudson Valley,” redistricting expert Dave Wasserman told Democracy Docket when the map was first introduced last week. “If passed, the net effect would be to diminish the competitiveness of New York’s map, with a very slight benefit to Democrats.”

As part of the 2014 amendment, in order for the new map to pass, the Legislature must first introduce it as a bill and then vote on it. The amended state constitution mandates a deadline of Feb. 28, giving the Legislature just two days to introduce and vote on the bill. It’ll then go to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) desk to either sign or reject. 

In order for the new map to pass, it’ll need at least 60% of the Legislature to vote in favor of it. Some lawmakers are also considering introducing other redistricting proposals for the full Legislature to vote on when it considers a new map. According to POLITICO, Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D) and Assemblymember William Magnarelli (D) introduced a bill that would change the legal venue for redistricting cases to only four counties in New York — in response to Republicans filing the original 2022 redistricting lawsuit in the heavily red Steuben County. Last September, Hochul signed a law that limited the counties where challenges to election law can be made to Albany, Erie, New York and Westchester counties.

This post was updated on Monday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. EST to reflect the New York Assembly’s vote.

Read more about the IRC’s map here. 

Learn more about the lawsuit that led to the map redraw here.