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Redistricting fight in New York shifts to courts

"The people of the state of New York deserve to know how these maps were drawn, who drew them and how they came up with them," Lanza said.


Hours after New York state lawmakers on Thursday put the finishing touches on the redistricting process and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the new maps into law, a legal challenged was filed to reject the changes.

The suit filed in state Supreme Court in Steuben County against the new lines for the U.S. House of Representatives' seats in New York could provide the first test for the state constitutional amendment approved as a safeguard against partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts.

"The maps just signed into law are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders that attempt to rig New York elections for the next decade in defiance of the will of the voters and with blatant disregard for New York’s Constitution," said attorneys Misha Tseytlin and Republican former state Sen. George Winner. "These new maps must be struck down.”

Democratic lawmakers have said they expect the maps will be upheld under a court challenge.

The new districts, part of the once-a-decade redistricting process, were submitted by Democratic lawmakers earlier this week after a bipartisan commission failed to reach an agreement on a set of maps.

Democrats have said the new districts were drawn fairly. Republicans and good-government advocates have argued the maps will help Democrats gain and retain more seats in Congress as well as in the state Legislature for the next 10 years.

Republican lawmakers during the floor debate blasted the lines, and questioned how the districts were drawn in an apparent effort to show a constitutional amendment guiding the redistricting process had been violated.

"It's my expectation that there will be," said Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt of a potential legal challenge after the state Senate finalized the new districts in a partyline 43-20 to vote approving the state-level lines. "I think the stakes necessitate that there are."

Republican state Sen. Andrew Lanza in exchange with Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris questioned how boundaries were decided in an effort to show potential conflicts with an amendment that prohibits districts drawn to benefit specific political parties or candidates.

"The people of the state of New York deserve to know how these maps were drawn, who drew them and how they came up with them," Lanza said.

CONTINUE READING at Spectrum Local

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