Photo: Daniel Barry/Getty Images
Fourteen plaintiffs filed a lawsuit yesterday against Governor Kathy Hochul and Democratic legislators, a few hours after they approved in Albany a redesign of the electoral map of New York called to favor the presence of their party in the national Capitol.
The plaintiffs allege that the new lines approved by the state Assembly are “unconstitutional” because they violate a 2014 state law that establishes the process for redrawing district lines and, moreover, that they were rigged to favor incumbent Democrats.
Although at the national level the Democrats had accused the Republicans of suppressing the minority vote, they have done the same andn New York, where they are overwhelming majority in proportion 7 to 1 in terms of registered voters. At the moment New York has 27 representatives -19 Democrats and 8 Republicans- in the Capitol, but will lose a seat due to population declinewhich had been falling before the pandemic and has accelerated since then.
On Wednesday, the state Assembly and Senate approved the new map of 26 constituencies of New York, which could mean for the Democrats to obtain three more congressmen in the next legislative elections in November, to the detriment of the Republicans. Another change brought by the new layout is that New York City will get two new state Senate seats in 2023.
“In 2014, the people of New York enshrined in the New York Constitution a unique process for enacting replacement congressional districts, while simultaneously prohibited the manipulation of the territories of parties and incumbents”, attorneys Bennet J. Moskowitz, George H. Winner and Misha Tseytlin wrote in the lawsuit filed in Steuben County Supreme Court.
The petition is filed against Hochul, Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the New York State Board of Elections, and the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research. and Reapportionment. None of them issued comments, reviewed New York Post.
Hochul signed the bills that will establish the new limits for the new districts of the Congress, as well as the Senate and the State Assembly of New York in 2023 and they became law yesterday around 7 pm, a day after they were approved. .
“The Legislature had no authority to enact the new map because it did not follow the exclusive process for enacting replacement maps that the Town enshrined through the 2014 amendments, meaning that the Congressional map is completely void,” the attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
Apparently the lawyers they are also considering filing a federal lawsuit separately that would target specific districts, should state courts deny the complaint. “The maps that have just been promulgated are unconstitutional partisan manipulations attempting to rig New York elections for the next decade in defiance of the will of the voters and with blatant disregard for the New York Constitution. These new maps must be torn down,” the lawyers said in a statement.
The geopolitical redesign technique is known as “gerrymandering”, a term coined in 1812, when then-Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry drew an electoral district that stretched out like a salamander to secure a seat for his party.
The redistricting of electoral districts is done in the United States every ten years, once the results of the electoral census are released, and it only affects those states in which the population has grown or shrunk enough to gain or lose representatives in the federal Congress.
The proposal approved on Wednesday in New York had been presented last Sunday and was immediately criticized by the Republican Party, although it has also done the same in other states it controls.