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Democratic state lawmakers could implement new congressional district map as early as Wednesday

This is the IRC's map of the entire state's 26 congressional districts released Feb. 15, 2024.
This is the IRC's map of the entire state's 26 congressional districts released Feb. 15, 2024. NYS Lawmakers have rejected it.

Democrats in the New York State legislature say they hope to vote on the latest version of new Congressional district maps as early as Wednesday. Republicans, who are in the minority party, say the new lines favor democrats.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, following a closed door meeting with his democratic members, says lawmakers will vote as soon as Wednesday on the lines drawn by the democratic majorities in his house and the state Senate. Democrats on Monday rejected maps approved by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission earlier in the month. Heastie says the maps needed revision.

“We looked, and we saw that there were some places that, people like to use the word defects, but we thought that they were areas that could be improved upon,” Heastie said. “And that's what we did.”

The Speaker says he’s requested what’s known as a message of necessity from Governor Kathy Hochul to forgo the three-day public aging process required for legislation.

The decision to alter the lines from the commission’s recommendations could help influence which party controls the US House of Representatives. In 2022, after lines drawn by the democrats were rejected by the state’s highest court for being unconstitutionally gerrymandered, a court appointed special master then drew lines for that year’s elections. Critics say that contributed to four seats flipping from Democrat to Republican, and helped the GOP narrowly regain the House.

The new lines could benefit Democratic incumbents Jamaal Bowman in the Hudson Valley, and Tom Suozzi, who recently regained his Long Island-based seat after George Santos was expelled in late 2023. The new configuration could also potentially disadvantage Syracuse-area Republican Brandon Williams, whose district would now include more Democratic-leaning voters.

But Heastie denies that the new lines favor democrats.

“We are not allowed to draw the lines with political considerations in mind,” the Speaker said.

Assembly Republican Minority Leader Will Barclay disagrees. He says the new lines most decidedly favor democrats.

“Without a doubt,” Barclay said. “I think the numbers would bear that out. But we are in a blue state. And, you know, I think things could actually have been worse.”

He says with the democrats in full control of the legislature, the lines could have been even more unfavorable to the GOP, and he predicted that some of his members will approve the maps.

Barclay and other republicans say democrats are thwarting the will of the people by rejecting the bi partisan redistricting commissions’ maps, which the panel approved by a 9 to 1 vote. The commission was created in a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2014.

Governor Hochul defends the Democrats’ decision to draw their own maps. She says that the constitution allows the Legislature to draw its own lines if it’s not satisfied with the commission’s option.

“It is the prerogative of the Legislature to vote yes or no. And if they vote, no, they have an alternative,” Hochul said. “So they're wrong in their assessment.”

Hochul who spoke earlier in the day, did not rule out issuing a message of necessity to allow voting to being a day early, saying she wants the lines to be in place as soon as possible. Petitioning for primary races has already begun.

“There’s a certain sense of urgency around this. People are out there with their petitions already. So I'm anxious to have this chapter wrapped up as soon as possible,” Hochul said. “I believe the Legislature wants this wrapped up within the next day or so. So we're taking it very seriously.”

Whenever the vote is taken, it is not likely to be the end of the process. With the control of the House potentially at stake, it’s expected that state GOP leaders will challenge the Democrats’ newest lines in court.


On Monday, New York’s Democrat-controlled Legislature rejected a district map drawn by the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission for one of their own making.

Onondaga County’s Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says the new districts are minor alterations to the commission’s original proposal.

"There’s a few winners, there’s a few losers," Czarny said. "New York 1 is a Republican district that got more Republican and then you’ve got our district–New York 22–that actually didn’t change at all."

The vote played out along party lines. The county’s Republican Commissioner Michele Sardo expects the decision to be challenged if the new map is put into place.

"They shouldn’t be able to change anything," Sardo said. "A judge instructed the independent redistricting commission to do this, and then when it was brought to the legislature they didn’t like what they did, so now they have their own maps that they drew and they’re submitting them."

Sardo says the legislature’s decision won’t upset the election calendar too much. But she says that if the Republican party does bring the new maps to court, New York’s primary elections could be delayed as late as August, a repeat of the situation that unfolded during the 2022 midterms.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network 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. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.