Kathy Hochul, the Democrat governor of New York, has signed off on congressional district maps for the state in a move that is facing criticism for giving massive political advantage to Democrats.
The maps have been created in such a way that Democrat voters will be the majority in 22 of the 26 congressional districts in New York in 2023. At present, Democrats have control over 19 out of 27 seats in the House. According to the Board of Elections, there were 2.3 registered Democrats for every single Republican in the state last year.
A bipartisan commission was set up to create the congressional maps. However, both parties failed to arrive at a consensus. As such, the power to decide the maps fell on the legislature.
The New York state legislature approved the new maps along party lines on Wednesday, with Democrats pushing through the maps using their supermajority in the Assembly and the Senate.
Democrats did not hold any public hearings while drawing up the maps, which the party says is justified since they have to finish the proceedings to comply with the electoral calendar. On Feb. 3, Hochul signed the congressional maps into law.
State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) pointed out that the maps reflect the population growth of the state. Insisting that Democrats have done a “service to the people of New York,” Andrea said that the maps will “stand up to scrutiny,” according to the Daily News.
“We are 100 percent confident that the lines are in compliance with all legal requirements … They are a gigantic step forward for fairer representation and reflect the strength and diversity of New York like never before,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democrat majority leader in the state Senate, reported the NY Times.
Non-partisan groups like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause have criticized the maps for being politically biased. The state’s primaries are scheduled for June.
Fourteen plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Hochul and other parties, stating that the newly passed congressional maps are unconstitutional. In the petition, the attorneys argued that the legislature had no authority to enact the new map as it did not follow the necessary processes as outlined in the constitutional amendments made in 2014.
“If this Court holds that the Legislature somehow had the authority to adopt a replacement map notwithstanding these procedural failures, this Court should reject it as a matter of substance, as the map is an obviously unconstitutional partisan and incumbent-protection gerrymander.
“If this Court takes this approach, it should invalidate the map and then send it back to the Legislature to create a new congressional map, which complies with the law,” the petition said, the NY Post reported. The lawsuit has been filed in the State Supreme Court in Steuben County.