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Monday, April 4, 2022

State-wide Implications:

New York election officials say primary deadlines remain in place
as redistricting case is appealed

Election officials encouraged candidates in New York to carry on with campaigning Friday as the state appeals an upstate judge’s decision striking down recently drawn congressional and legislative maps.

The State Board of Elections said that election-related deadlines ahead of the June primary will remain in place pending the appeal.

That includes the filing period for designating petitions this week, due between April 4 to April 7, and “all other deadlines provided for by law are still in effect pending further court determinations.”

“All designating petitions must be filed during that time period,” according to a message on the BOE website.

On Thursday, Steuben County Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister determined that the maps, drawn up by the Democrat-led Legislature, violated a 2014 constitutional amendment to end partisan gerrymandering.

“The enacted congressional map shows virtually zero competitive districts,” McAllister wrote in his decision.

McAllister ordered the Legislature to go back to the drawing board and resubmit maps with “sufficient bipartisan support” by April 11, or he would appoint an outside expert to take over the process. The Republican judge acknowledged that his ruling is unlikely to be the final word on the matter.

Gov. Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, and representatives for the state’s Democratic legislative leaders, immediately announced their appeal, staying the decision for the time being. The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will likely take up the case. All seven judges on the panel were all appointed by Democrats.

The Republican-backed lawsuit that prompted McAllister’s ruling argued that Democrats gerrymandered the maps to favor themselves, violating a 2014 constitutional provision that created the independent commission meant to take politics out of the process.

Candidates across the state have been campaigning for weeks based on the new Senate, Assembly, and congressional districts as the state’s June 29 primary fast approaches.

Republican candidates will continue to comply with the current deadlines as the appeals process plays out, according to party officials.

“The law is clear & the Legislature should comply with the ruling. But we take nothing for chance,” state GOP spokeswoman Jessica Proud tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, and his fellow Republican lawmakers sent a letter Friday to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, D-Yonkers, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, calling for a “collaborative approach to creating fair and bipartisan legislative district maps.”

“In light of this decision, we look forward to working together to create maps that most accurately represent the voters of New York State,” Ortt wrote. “We are ready, willing and able.”

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