New York redistricting commission approves new congressional map

 New York's bipartisan redistricting commission on Thursday approved a new congressional map that makes minor changes to three competitive districts but makes no significant changes to the rest of the state's boundaries.

The map proposal now goes to the Democrat-dominated Legislature, which can approve the plan or reject it and draw its own lines. It's not clear exactly when lawmakers will meet to vote on the commission's map.

New York's congressional redistricting process is being closely watched this year because suburban races in the state could have a huge impact on which party controls the House after the November elections.

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The redistricting commission was tasked with drawing new districts after the state Supreme Court in December rejected the map used in the 2022 elections. Democrats had sued to remove the old map after their party suffered a series of crushing defeats in several suburban seats that helped Republicans regain a slim majority in the House.

The panel's new map plan largely leaves out most of the current congressional districts, a move that could help fend off legal challenges against the proposal. It may also serve to assuage at least some of Republicans' concerns that the new plan would provide a radically level playing field for their collapse.

The biggest change appears to be in the upper district currently held by Republican Representative Brandon Williams. The commission would move the district, which is based at Syracuse, to include the cities of Auburn and Cortland.

Other big adjustments will be in neighboring districts held by Republican Representative Mark Molinaro and Democrat Representative Pat Ryan. The plan would expand Ryan's district to include Woodstock to the north, while Molinaro's district would be expanded to include parts of the state east of Albany.

The state's independent redistricting commission was to draw districts to be used in 2022, but failed to reach consensus, derailing the process to state lawmakers.

Democrats controlling the legislature then drew their own map, intended to give the edge to Democrats by packing Republicans into certain super districts in order to reduce GOP voting power across the state. A lawsuit ultimately prevented Democrats from using the map and a legal challenge delayed congressional primaries.

The state's highest court appointed an outside expert to draw the map for 2022. Republicans did well in Congress under those policies, flipping seats in the New York City suburbs and gaining a slight majority in the House.

After the defeat, Democrats filed a lawsuit to throw out the 2022 map. The case eventually reached the state high court, which ordered a new map to be drawn in a judgment in December, saying the commission should have another chance to draw district lines.

This time, the state's redistricting commission was able to reach consensus on a map proposal, approving a plan that would dramatically redraw district lines in an apparent effort to avoid another legal challenge that could disrupt the campaign. Was not transferred. The panel approved the map by a vote of 9-1 during a brief hearing in Albany.

The proposal leaves congressional boundaries on Long Island, where the race is expected to be hotly contested, mostly unchanged, including the district formerly held by Jorge Santos, who was expelled from Congress, and a special election this week. Democrat Tom Suozzi won the election. The New York City lines also appeared largely unchanged.

"It was important to us that we not get into the process of confusing people about where they are going to vote," said Charles Nesbitt, vice chairman of the redistricting commission.

The independent redistricting commission was created under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014. The panel is composed of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.

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