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Tossed maps, disrupted election calendar create chaos, confusion for Onondaga County

WAER file photo

Election maps and calendars in the Empire State have been turned upside down. This after the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the newly drawn district lines for Congressional and state senate districts were unconstitutional. So, what does this mean for Onondaga County voters and its board of elections? Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says there’s a lot we don’t know yet.

“Everything is being thrown out the window. We’re waiting for state board and the supreme court in Steuben County to give us a political calendar, and the special master to give us a map.”

The timeline for primary elections in New York State is determined by the STATE Board of Elections. But in the wake of Wednesday’s ruling, original primary dates are now delayed, and are dependent on when a new map is drawn. The ruling requires a special master to redraw the districts by May 20. Czarny says the timing of the new map release and June primary elections will make for a tight schedule.

Once we get the maps, we have to redistrict again. That took us six weeks before, and we’re not going to be able to it in that time period this time. That will be the biggest lift. Then we have to start doing petitioning and whatever ballot access method decided by the supreme court and state board put forward. And, of course, designing a ballot. All of this happening concurrently while we’re running the June primary.”

Offices such as Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and any assembly district primaries will still be on the June ballot. All of this not only costs time, but money. Czarny says Onondaga County will need to foot a large bill because of the state’s ruling, along with other New York counties.

In budget runs due to electoral matters, the county has to cover that cost. That is part of the county charge. In Onondaga County, this will cost us approximately $400,000 more dollars that we did not have in our budget.”

Czarny says he supports independent, citizen-led redistricting, like the process underway in the City of Syracuse, and that redrawing maps has become far too partisan. Both the state and county processes have resulted in maps that have been challenged in court.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at