New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission Releases New Congressional Map

UPDATE: This article was updated to add the reaction of redistricting expert, Jeffrey Wice. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) voted to pass a new congressional map after the state’s highest court ordered the IRC to draw a new congressional map for 2024. It will now go to the Legislature for approval

The map — which is deemed a “consensus plan” by the IRC — is not expected to significantly shift control of New York’s congressional delegation and passed by a 9-1 vote. Currently, the New York House delegation consists of 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans. This number is down from 11 as of Dec. 1, after former Rep. George Santos was expelled. However, with the recent election of Democrat Tom Suozzi to fill Santos’ seat, the delegation will soon consist of 16 Democrats and 10 Republicans once Suozzi is sworn in.

New York's congressional map passed by the IRC. A key shows four red colors going from dark red to light red in a gradient. These represent Republican leaning districts. The key also shows four blue colors going from light to dark blue. The blue districts represent Democratic leaning districts.Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, New York City and Long Island are labeled on the map.

A map that is potentially less competitive for Democrats could be a huge factor in whether they are able to take back the House in 2024. 

New York will have a new congressional map as a result of a lawsuit filed in June 2022 alleging that the IRC did not complete its mandatory duty and requesting that the state have a new congressional map for 2024. Thanks to a 2014 voter-approved amendment creating the IRC, the commission — made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and two unaffiliated members — is required under the state constitution to submit a second set of maps if the Legislature rejects the first set. In 2021, after the Legislature rejected the first set of plans presented by the commission, the Republican IRC members stalled and refused to meet, failing to perform their constitutional duty, according to the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit made its way through the court system for over a year and in December 2023, New York’s highest court ruled 4-3 that the IRC must redraw the state’s congressional map before the 2024 elections. In that ruling, the court set a deadline for the IRC to convene and pass a new map by Feb. 28, 2024. 

December’s opinion, authored by Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, ordered the IRC to reconvene and perform its mandatory duty. 

“[T]he IRC failed to discharge its constitutional duty. That dereliction is undisputed. The Appellate Division concluded that the IRC can be compelled to reconvene to fulfill that duty; we agree. There is no reason the Constitution should be disregarded,” the opinion reads. 

Jeffrey Wice, a redistricting expert, adjunct professor of law and Senior Fellow at the N.Y. Census & Redistricting Institute at New York Law School also gave an exclusive comment to Democracy Docket:  “New York’s commission was finally able to agree on a bipartisan congressional map that changed very little from the map drawn by the state court in 2022.” 

Senior Editor and Elections Analyst at the Cook Political Report, Dave Wasserman, reacted to the new map in a quote to Democracy Docket: 

“It 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, but it also diminishes their prospects of gaining Marc Molinaro’s 19th District in Ithaca and the Upper Hudson Valley. If passed, the net effect would be to diminish the competitiveness of New York’s map, with a very slight benefit to Democrats.” 

Look at the map passed by the IRC here.

Learn more about the case here.