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SU professor calls court's redistricting decision "disruptive" as 2024 election looms

 The 2022 Congressional District map as drawn by a special master.
NYS Board of Elections
/
elections.ny.gov
The 2022 Congressional District map as drawn by a special master.

The decision by New York’s highest court to order the redrawing of the state’s congressional districts is stirring controversy and uncertainty leading to the 2024 elections. It's just the latest twist in a process that’s become a political football. Maxwell School professor Grant Reeher feels the court’s ruling was based on flimsy reasoning.

“There was no discussion of the merits of the districts that were drawn by the special master that was appointed by the court after the [Independent Redistricting] Commission failed to produce a consensus, and the legislature tried to gerrymander the districts.”

The legislature is dominated by Democrats. Republicans fear the gerrymandering will begin again under a commission that Reeher says may or may not reach agreement.

 “If they can't agree, and it goes back to the legislature again, and I think this is probably what Democrats are hoping for," Reeher said. "Then they redraw the districts, and this time maybe they're not quite as aggressive as they were the previous time and try to get something that will pass court scrutiny.” 

Reeher says Democrats are likely to target three or four vulnerable districts, including the 22nd held by Republican Brandon Williams. He and other Republicans scored New York seats in 2022 that caught Democrats by surprise. Reeher says the ruling from the Court of Appeals is problematic and is likely to create a rushed, uncertain, and potentially chaotic electoral scenario.

"To throw the whole thing back on to square one again is, I think disruptive to the process and certainly disruptive to those that are currently in Congress and those that would want to challenge those folks that are in Congress."

Reeher says redistricting or even who wins the state’s contested seats probably won’t be much of a factor this time around with control of the house at stake.

“We're headed into a presidential year, so the dynamic is going to be completely different and is going to be driven by what's happening at the top of the ticket," Reeher said. "It would be my hunch that if you're going to see some sort of sea change that would be putting Democrats in those positions, it's probably going to also be something that we'll see throughout the country.”

Or, Reeher says, Republicans might build on their narrow majority.

Copyright 2023 WAER. To see more, visit WAER.

Scott Willis