By MARINA VILLENEUVE, Associated Press
ALBANY, NY (AP) – A New York judge ordered Friday that the state’s congressional and state Senate primaries be delayed until Aug. 23 to provide enough time to replace district maps that were ruled unconstitutional this week.
State Judge Patrick McAllister moved the primaries back from their original date of June 28. He said the independent expert he tasked with helping him craft new maps, special master Jonathan Cervas, will finish drawing districts by May 20.
New York is set to separately hold gubernatorial and state Assembly primaries in June, unless lawmakers or Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, decide to delay. New York once held congressional and state office primaries on separate dates, but lawmakers in 2019 consolidated them to save money, increase voter turnout and make the process less confusing for the public.
On Wednesday, New York’s highest court rejected new congressional and state senate maps that had widely been seen as favoring Democrats. The majority decision largely agreed with Republican voters who argued the congressional district boundaries were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
The Republicans also successfully argued that lawmakers lacked the authority to draw the congressional and state Senate maps in the first place. Voters in 2014 approved an anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment that created an independent redistricting commission. But the Republican and Democratic commissioners failed to agree on a single set of maps, so lawmakers decided to draw the maps themselves.
The court’s rejection dashed Democrats’ national redistricting hopes, which leaned heavily on their ability to gerrymander New York state to maximize the number of seats they could win in the US House of Representatives.
Cervas, who is drawing the newest maps, previously helped create legislative district maps for Pennsylvania’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
A state board of elections spokesperson said Thursday the state was asking the US Justice Department if a federal court needs to review a delay of the federal primary. The spokesperson said Friday attorneys were still reviewing the matter.
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