Final New York District Maps Cement a Chaotic 2022 Election Season

New York’s Special Master for Redistricting has finalized the Congressional and State Senate maps, further altering the city’s wards and opening the starting gate for a messy election season in 2022.

In the final maps submitted to the Steuben County Supreme Court on Friday evening, Jonathan Cervas made some changes to the draft maps he first revealed earlier this week, but did not drastically alter them.

In Brooklyn, Cervas redesigned Sunset Park from NY-11, a swing US House neighborhood covering Staten Island and Brooklyn, and in the new NY-10, a Congressional neighborhood covering Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. With the blue quarter gone, that could mean an easier re-election chance for Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island).

In Manhattan, Cervas’ maps divided Manhattan into three distinct parts – Upper Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, and the central core comprising both the Upper West and Upper East sides, and Midtown. It will force two longtime House incumbents, Reps. Jerry Nadler (D) and Carolyn Maloney (D), to a primary together.

In the new NY-10, candidates are already lining up for the plum, heavily Democratic seat. Within an hour of finalizing the maps, Representative Mondaire Jones (D) of the Lower Hudson Valley and Rockland County announcement he would run in the Manhattan-Brooklyn neighborhood. On Friday, former mayor Bill de Blasio also announced his campaign for the seat. He will be joined by State Senators Brad Hoylman and Yuh-Line Niou, who also plan to attend.

In the state Senate, a major reshuffle scrambled the plans of the candidates and put many incumbents at risk. In court records, Cervas said his new series of cards had created more political competition. His final cards created 12 competitive Senate seats statewide, up from the previous six, according to his explanation.

In Congress, his version of New York’s districts includes eight competitive seats, as opposed to the three competitive seats created on maps previously drawn by the state legislature earlier this year.

The cards are effective immediately and will be passed by the state Board of Elections as it prepares for a dual primary season this summer. New York now has two primary elections, one on June 28 for the state Assembly seats and the gubernatorial race and one on August 23 for the state’s Congressional and Senate districts drawn by Cervas. .

With the midterm congressional elections looming, redistricting New York could help give control of the House of Representatives to the GOP. At the state level, district redevelopment could have a profound effect on longtime incumbents who, in some cases, are now being removed from longtime neighborhoods.

The boundaries published by Cervas on Friday are the culmination of a difficult months-long redrawing process, followed by a legal battle that has been the subject of two appeals. It started last year when a newly created redistricting commission attempted to create New York’s political boundaries, but stalled on partisan lines. From there, the Democratic-controlled state legislature drew its own lines. These have been challenged in court by GOP-backed plaintiffs.

The state assembly districts survived the legal fight and remain in effect today. However, a late-breaking legal challenge is pending in the state Supreme Court and a hearing is scheduled in that case. Monday.

Is there a bias?

Questions also remain about the lines drawn by Cervas. Like reported by POLITICO, 22 state Senate districts in New York and Westchester County drawn by Cervas are identical to a map drafted by New York Republicans last year.

As the court released the maps in the middle of the night from Friday to Saturday morning, Supreme Court Justice Patrick McAllister – who approved the maps – and Cervas defended the process as impartial.

“Frankly, it was remarkable that Special Master Cervas was able to create both the Congressional and State Senate maps in such a short time. He and his team are to be commended,” McAllister wrote.

He added that while the Republican-backed plaintiffs won the redistricting case, the result is not that they “can now draw their own gerrymandered maps.”

“It’s not a winner-takes-all situation,” he said. “The court is not politically biased.”

Cervas himself wrote about the many factors he tried to balance when creating the lines, including summarizing thousands of public comments submitted to the court. He worked with a team of graduate students and consulted Professor Bernard Goffman, one of his mentors. In a footnote in the court filing, he recalled a joke Goffman has about the “many different criteria that a special master must pay attention to.”

“It’s like being asked to juggle things as diverse as tires, teapots, and lit torches simultaneously, with a few pennies… thrown in for good measure,” he wrote.

Cervas began his work after the Court of Appeals struck down lines from Congress and the New York State Senate in late April. Cervas was appointed by McAllister before the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Candidates and voters now face a tumultuous primary season. Potential representatives rushed to announce their intention to run for the newly drawn districts. But those who officially want to be elected have a little over a week to do so; the deadline for existing candidates to register for the August primary is May 31, according to the state’s BOE political calendar. New candidates can also join by submitting petitions by June 10.

Those running for election in the June primary have just over five weeks to make their case to voters – if that election date is met. Already, the League of Women Voters has followed to force the state to combine the two August election dates.

“The State Board of Elections, apparently with the support of the leaders of the two major political parties, has implemented a deliberately exclusive voting system for offices statewide, designed to limit future competition in the primaries and independent candidates in the general election,” Laura Ladd Bierman, the executive director of LWV, told Spectrum News.

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