ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Tuesday is the deadline for the Independent Redistricting Commission to issue final draft maps, but it doesn’t look like members will be submitting anything to the state legislature after democrats and republicans couldn’t agree on a single set. Timing will be crucial to give boards of elections time to implement the new lines before the June primary.
Jeffrey Wice, Senior Fellow at the New York Law School Census & Redistricting Institute, said it’s no surprise things turned out this way with democrat and republican sides of the committee pointing blame towards one another, and that the 2014 constitutional amendment which created the process failed to make it truly independent.
“It was not a simple process, and it was designed, in part, to end up in front of the legislature after all was said and done,” Wice said.
That’s what’ll happen after the deadline officially passes Tuesday evening. The legislature will take data from the commission and public input from the last few months and draw its own lines, which would then have to be made into a bill.
Republican commissioners claimed democrats purposely scuttled the process so the legislature they control could draw the lines.
When asked about the process at a Tuesday press conference, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins stressed the importance of not gerrymandering, a term for using the chance to draw maps as a way to maintain party power.
“We know that voters deserve to be in districts that that make sense,” Stewart-Cousins said, “and should we have the opportunity to do that, mindful of what’s been done in the past, we will certainly do the right things by New Yorkers.”
As for timing, Stewart-Cousins was not clear about whether we can expect redistricting bills to come together this week. “We will try and be expeditious, but also give people an opportunity to see what’s going on,” she said.
Wice said the lines should be submitted to Governor Hochul for her approval by early February in anticipation of the upcoming spring primary.
“The lines need to be finalized, I’d say, by the second week of February, so the county boards of elections have enough time to implement the new lines,” Wice explained, “to essentially line up the new assembly districts with the existing election districts, so candidates know where the districts are, and they can start circulating petitions March 1st.”