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Judge strikes down New York congressional, legislative maps

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A judge struck down New York’s new congressional and legislative maps on Thursday as an illegal gerrymander, dealing a setback to Democrats who were expected to benefit heavily from the new political lines.

In a ruling, State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister in Steuben County ordered state lawmakers to draw new lines within the next 12 days. If they are unable to submit new maps by April 11, “the court will retain a neutral expert at State expense to prepare said maps.”

McAllister’s order is a major blow to Democrats, who designed New York’s new congressional map to give them a heavy advantage over the next decade. While New York has a bipartisan commission charged with drawing new maps, the Democratic-controlled state legislature can simply draw its own maps if it rejects the commission’s proposals. The result was a new congressional map that heavily favored Democrats.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the new maps into law in February. The congressional map created 20 Democratic-leaning seats and only four Republican-leaning seats. Two other seats would be competitive, though tilted Democratic.

McAllister’s decision is a reversal from earlier this month when he said that it was likely too late for new maps to be drawn in response to a Republican request to halt New York’s election process.

“It is highly unlikely that the new viable map could be drawn and be in place within a few weeks or even a couple of months,” McAllister said previously. The ruling out of New York will almost certainly be appealed. Still, McAllister’s latest decision comes less than a week after a judge in Maryland invalidated a heavily gerrymandered congressional map that would have likely created a seven-to-one split favoring Democrats.

And earlier this week, the Ohio state Supreme Court indicated that it would not rule before the state’s May 3 primaries on a challenge to a map that could give Republicans as many as 13 of the state’s 15 House seats.

Democrats are already playing defense this year nationally. The GOP needs to net just five seats in the House to recapture control of the lower chamber — a goal that appears well within reach, given President Biden’s sinking approval numbers and rising enthusiasm among GOP voters.

Tags gerrymander Gerrymandering kathy hochul Kathy Hochul New York New York redistricting

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