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Challenge to NY's congressional and state redistricting lines continues in court on March 14

Redistricting-New York
Hans Pennink
Associated Press
The New York state Senate meets in the Senate Chamber on the opening day of the legislative session at the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 8, 2020.

A state Supreme Court judge in Steuben County will hear arguments March 14 on whether to throw out the state’s newly drawn congressional and state legislative districts.

Republicans, who are challenging the lines, won a small victory when Judge Patrick McAllister this week agreed that the case could go forward. But McAllister refused the GOP’s request to postpone the June primary elections, saying it’s too late now to do so. Petitioning to obtain spots on the ballot has already begun.

Former congressman and state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso, who is serving as an adviser to the Republicans' lawyers, said the Democrats who lead the Legislature and Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul manipulated the lines to try to drive them out of office.

“This is a partisan gerrymander, every third party independent of the political process in New York state says this is a partisan gerrymander,” Faso said. “And we think ultimately the courts will throw these plans out.”

Faso said the new lines violate a constitutional amendment approved by voters eight years ago that prohibits drawing district lines to benefit incumbents or discourage challengers.

“It’s clearly contrary to what the people voted for in 2014,” Faso said.

Democrats deny they engaged in partisan manipulation, and say the lines were drawn fairly and reverse decades of what they say was Republican gerrymandering.

The judge did present the possibility that if the Republicans successfully argue their case, new congressional and state legislative lines could be drawn in time to hold a special election for all of the seats in 2023. That would mean candidates — and voters — would have to go through the election process for three years in a row: this year, next year and in 2024.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.