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Redistricting review: Michigan Supreme Court declines to extend redistricting deadlines

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Michigan: On July 9, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s request to extend the constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. The constitutional deadlines – presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1 – remain in effect.

In light of the delayed delivery of detailed redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the commission argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline.” Instead, the commission asked the state supreme court to direct the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

The state supreme court asked the Office of the Attorney General to assemble two separate teams to make arguments, one team in support of the commission’s request and another opposed. The court heard oral arguments on June 21. Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, speaking in support of the proposed deadline extensions, said “The very maps themselves could be challenged if they are drawn after the November 1 deadline.” Assistant Attorney General Kyla Barranco, speaking in opposition, said, “There isn’t harm in telling the commission at this point, ‘Try your best with the data that you might be able to use and come September 17, maybe we’ll have a different case.'”

In its unsigned July 9 order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote a concurrence, in which she said, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

In response to the court’s order, Edward Woods III, the commission’s communications and outreach director, said that the commission would follow its draft timeline, under which the public input period opens on Aug. 30 and closes on Sept. 30 – past the Sept. 17 constitutional deadline. This suggests that further litigation on the matter might occur.

New York: On July 12, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission (NYIRC) announced that public hearings will begin on July 20. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here. NYIRC also said it would release its first redistricting proposal on Sept. 15.

Pennsylvania: On July 12, redistricting authorities in Pennsylvania launched a redistricting website and announced a schedule for public hearings on congressional redistricting, the first of which will take place on July 22. A full list of hearing dates can be accessed here.

Additional reading:

Redistricting in Michigan after the 2020 census

Redistricting in New York after the 2020 census

Redistricting in Pennsylvania after the 2020 census



An update on NYC comptroller election results

Voters in New York City may be waiting at least a couple weeks to find out who the Democratic nominee for city comptroller is—along with nominees for other offices on the ballot, including mayor and city council. 

The city Board of Elections is scheduled to begin running ranked-choice voting tabulations on June 29—the day it must receive absentee ballots by—for votes cast in person and will include votes cast by mail in the tabulations starting July 6, according to the Associated Press. Voters have until July 9 to resolve any issues that may be present with their absentee ballots, NY1 reported.

City Councilman Brad Lander had received 31% of the votes the board had counted and reported as of June 23. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson received 23%. Former CNBC financial analyst Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was third, based on these incomplete results, with 14%. State Sen. Brian Benjamin was fourth with 8%. 

Lander ran as a progressive, emphasizing endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with The New York Times editorial board. Johnson said he’d balanced three city budgets as council speaker. Several unions in the city endorsed him. Caruso-Cabrera described herself as a Latina political outsider with the financial experience for the job. She ran against Ocasio-Cortez in the 2020 Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District. Benjamin highlighted his experience working for a housing developer and in financial management before joining the state legislature. Two former city comptrollers endorsed him.

With ranked-choice voting, the lowest-performing candidate of the 10 who ran will be eliminated from the running once all votes are in, and his or her votes will be redistributed to those voters’ second-choice candidates, if they selected second choices. That process will continue until one candidate reaches more than 50%. Voters were allowed to rank up to five candidates in the June 22 primaries.  

Additional reading 



New York City primaries for mayor, city comptroller to be held on June 22

Primaries for the mayor and comptroller of New York City will be held on Tuesday, June 22. The winners will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.

Thirteen Democrats and two Republicans are running in the primaries for mayor of New York City. Incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is not running for re-election due to term limits.

The primary election will feature the first use of ranked-choice voting (RCV) for a mayoral primary in the city’s history. Voters will be able to rank up to five candidates on their ballot in order of preference.

The following six Democratic candidates have received the most media attention and noteworthy endorsements:

• Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president

• Kathryn Garcia, former New York City sanitation commissioner

• Raymond McGuire, former Wall Street executive

• Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller

• Maya Wiley, former mayoral counsel

• Andrew Yang, entrepreneur

The top issues in this race are crime, policing, affordable housing, jobs, and healthcare.

New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers founder Fernando Mateo and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa are running in the Republican primary.

De Blasio was first elected in 2013 and won re-election in 2017 with 66% of the vote. Including de Blasio, four of the previous six mayors were Democrats.

The Democratic primary for New York City comptroller is also being held on June 22. Ten candidates are running for the office, whose duties include performing audits of city agencies and managing five public pension funds. As of March 2021, the funds totaled $253 billion in assets.

The following seven candidates are leading in endorsements and fundraising:

• Brian Benjamin, state senator

• Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, former CNBC financial analyst

• Zachary Iscol, former Marine and nonprofit founder

• Corey Johnson, New York City Council speaker

• Brad Lander, New York City Council member

• Kevin Parker, state senator

• David Weprin, state assemblyman

The Republican primary was canceled, and Daby Carreras advanced as the Republican nominee for New York City comptroller.

Additional reading:



Reviewing noteworthy endorsers’ picks for New York City mayor, comptroller

New York City holds primaries for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, five borough presidents, and 51 city council seats on June 22. As part of our in-depth coverage of the mayoral and comptroller elections, Ballotpedia has tracked Democratic primary endorsements from major local papers, members of Congress, and influential unions and groups. 

Below, we highlight several endorsers’ picks in both the mayoral and comptroller primaries. We include endorsers from whom we found endorsements in both races. Endorsed mayoral candidates are listed first after the endorser, and endorsed comptroller candidates are listed second.

Ten of 23 endorsers listed below had unique endorsement pairings. Six backed Maya Wiley for mayor and Brad Lander for comptroller. Three endorsed Wiley for mayor and Corey Johnson for comptroller. Two endorsed Scott Stringer for mayor and Lander for comptroller. And two backed Stringer and Johnson.

Local papers

New York Post: Eric Adams, Zach Iscol

The New York Times: Kathryn Garcia, Brad Lander

New York Daily News:Kathryn Garcia, David Weprin

Members of Congress

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): Maya Wiley, Brad Lander

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.): Maya Wiley, Kevin Parker

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.): Eric Adams, Brian Benjamin

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.): Ray McGuire, David Weprin 

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.):  Scott Stringer, Brad Lander

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.): Maya Wiley, Brad Lander 

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.): Maya Wiley, Brad Lander 

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.): Eric Adams, David Weprin   

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.): Andrew Yang, Corey Johnson

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.): Maya Wiley, Brad Lander 

Unions

1199 SEIU: Maya Wiley, Corey Johnson

LiUNA! NY: Scott Stringer, Corey Johnson

New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council: Eric Adams, Corey Johnson

New York State Nurses Association: Maya Wiley, Corey Johnson

United Federation of Teachers: Scott Stringer, Corey Johnson

Groups

New York Working Families Party: Maya Wiley, Brad Lander

New York League of Conservation Voters: Kathryn Garcia, Corey Johnson

Stonewall Democrats of NYC: Scott Stringer, Brad Lander

Tenants PAC: Maya Wiley, Corey Johnson

New York Progressive Action Network: Maya Wiley, Brad Lander

Note: Many state legislators, local officials, and other groups and unions have issued endorsements in the races and are not included above. See our race coverage for more endorsements as well as links to endorsement lists on candidates’ campaign websites.

Additional reading:



Early voting begins in NYC mayoral primary on June 12

Thirteen candidates are running in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City on June 22, 2021. Early voting began on June 12.

This election features the first use of ranked-choice voting for a mayoral primary in the city’s history. Under this system, voters will be able to rank up to five candidates on their ballot in order of preference. A candidate must receive a majority of votes cast to win the election, and votes for eliminated candidates are redistributed based on the next preference on the ballot.

On June 10, five Democrats discussed gun violence, policing, legal marijuana, and historical landmarks in the final primary debate before early voting:

* Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president

* Kathryn Garcia, former New York City Sanitation Commissioner

* Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller

* Maya Wiley, former mayoral counsel

* Andrew Yang, entrepreneur and 2020 presidential candidate

Adams led in an Emerson College poll released this week with 23% support in the first round of voting. Wiley, whose candidacy was boosted by the endorsement of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on June 5, came in second with 17%.

Yang, Garcia, and Stringer followed with 15%, 12%, and 9% respectively. Yang received an endorsement from the Uniformed Firefighters Association last week, while Garcia was backed by Citizens Union (CU). Adams and Stringer were the second and third choices for CU.

Two candidates are running in the Republican primary: New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers founder Fernando Mateo and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

Incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is not running for re-election due to term limits. De Blasio was first elected in 2013 and won re-election in 2017 with 66% of the vote. Including de Blasio, four of the previous six mayors were Democrats.



The NYC race you may not have heard about—for comptroller

On June 22nd, New York City will vote in primaries not only for mayor, but for other city offices as well, including comptroller. The comptroller performs audits of city agencies and manages five public pension funds, among other responsibilities. As of March, the pension funds totaled $253 billion in assets. The next comptroller will also be responsible for overseeing the use of federal stimulus money issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten candidates are running in the Democratic primary for a chance to succeed Scott Stringer, who is running in the Democratic primary for mayor. Republican and Conservative Party primaries were canceled as only one candidate was on the ballot in each.

Seven Democratic primary candidates have been mentioned by media outlets as leading candidates. Each has argued that their background equips them for the office. 

• Brian Benjamin, a state senator, previously worked for a housing developer and in financial management for Morgan Stanley. 

• Michelle Caruso-Cabrera was a financial analyst for CNBC. 

• Zachary Iscol served in the Marines and is a business and nonprofit founder. 

• Corey Johnson is speaker of the New York City Council. 

• Brad Lander, also a city councilman, co-founded the council’s Progressive Caucus. 

• Kevin Parker, a state senator, previously worked for investment banking firm UBS PaineWebber and as project manager for the New York State Urban Development Corporation. 

• David Weprin, a state assemblyman, previously served on the city council, where he was chair of the Finance Committee for eight years.

Ballotpedia has compiled biographical information, key messages, endorsements, and more related to the Democratic primary for comptroller. We also provide information on ranked-choice voting, which New York City is using this year for the first time. Voters will be able to rank up to five candidates on their ballots.

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Eight Democratic mayoral candidates debate on June 2—three weeks before NYC primary

Eight Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City participated in their first in-person debate on June 2, 2021: Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang.

They discussed gun violence, hate crimes, policing, the city budget, public education, and the economy.

Heading into the debate, Garcia topped an Emerson College poll of 570 likely voters conducted May 23-24 with 21% support in the first round and 55% support in the eleventh and final round of ranked-choice voting. The margin of error was 4.1%. Adams and Yang, who led in earlier polls, rounded out the final three.

Garcia’s performance in polling has improved following endorsements from The New York Times and the New York Daily News. Other recent key endorsements in the race include Rep. John Liu (D-N.Y.) for Yang, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) for Wiley, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) for Adams.

Stringer, who lost endorsements following allegations of sexual misconduct that Stringer denied, received a boost from the United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers in May through a $4 million television and digital ad campaign.

Additional key spending in the race includes $500,000 from investor George Soros to a pro-Wiley super PAC and $1 million from oil executive John Hess to a pro-McGuire group.

The primary election will take place on June 22, 2021. It will be the first mayoral primary in New York City to use ranked-choice voting. Voters will be able to rank up to five candidates on their ballot in order of preference. 

Incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) did not run for re-election because of term limits.



New York Legislature refers two voting policy constitutional amendments to November ballot

Voters in New York will decide constitutional amendments at the election on November 2, 2021, to authorize no-excuse absentee voting and same-day voter registration. Currently, the state constitution requires voters to be absent from their county of residence, ill, or physically disabled to vote with an absentee ballot. It also requires that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus prohibiting same-day voter registration.

To refer constitutional amendments to the ballot, the New York State Legislature must approve them by a simple majority vote in each chamber during two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. Both of the constitutional amendments were previously approved in 2019. On January 11, 2021, the state Senate voted 50 to 13 to pass the no-excuse absentee voting amendment. Democrats, along with seven Republicans, voted in favor of the proposal. Thirteen Republicans voted against the proposal. On January 12, the Senate voted 42 to 20 to pass the same-day voter registration amendment. Democrats supported the proposal, and Republicans opposed the proposal. On May 11, 2021, the state Assembly voted to pass both constitutional amendments, sending them to the ballot for voter consideration.

As of April 2021, 20 states and D.C. allow for same-day voter registration, including neighboring Connecticut and Vermont. New York is one of 16 states that require an excuse to receive an absentee ballot. Thirty-four states and D.C. provide for no-excuse absentee voting (or provide every voter with a mail-in ballot), meaning any voter can apply to receive an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee voting was temporarily extended in New York to any voter ‘unable to appear personally at the polling place of the election district in which they are a qualified voter because there is a risk of contracting or spreading a disease causing illness to the voter or to other members of the public.’  

Since 1995, an average of 1.5 constitutional amendments appeared on odd-year ballots in New York. As of May 12, four constitutional amendments had been approved for the November election. In addition to the two voting policy amendments, voters will also decide an amendment to make changes to the redistricting process in New York and an amendment to create a state constitutional right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.

An additional two constitutional amendments could appear on the ballot, bringing the total up to six measures. These two amendments would increase the NYC Civil Court’s jurisdiction from civil cases involving $25,000 to $50,000 and remove the wartime service requirement for veterans to receive civil service credits.

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Voters to decide Lackawanna City (N.Y.) School District elections on May 18

The general election for Lackawanna City School District in New York is May 18. The filing deadline to run passed on April 29. 

Five candidates will be on the nonpartisan ballot. Incumbents Kimberly Bukaty, Leonard Kowalski, and Mohamed Munassar face challengers Raymond Braxton and Azaldeen Mohamed. Bukaty was appointed to the board in March to replace Nicholas Trifilo. Incumbent Mark Kowalski did not file for re-election.

Candidates are competing for four of seven seats on the board. The three trustees with the highest number of votes will be elected to three-year terms, and the trustee with the fourth-highest number of votes will be elected to a two-year term.

Lackawanna City School District served 1,944 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised four schools.

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Here’s a round-up of this week’s redistricting news: May 5, 2021

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released apportionment counts for the U.S. House of Representatives, kicking off the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle. Throughout this year and next, policymakers (including state legislators, governors, and special redistricting commissions) will draft and implement new state legislative and congressional district maps, which will remain in force for the next 10 years. Beginning today, we will provide weekly updates on major redistricting events across all 50 states.

Oklahoma lawmakers unveil draft maps for state legislature: On April 21, Oklahoma lawmakers released their proposed district maps for the state senate and house of representatives, making Oklahoma the first state in the 2021-2022 cycle to produce draft maps. In lieu of final 2020 census data, which has not yet been made available to the states, lawmakers used the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2015 through 2019 to draft their proposals.

Release of apportionment counts triggers lawsuits in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania: On April 26, Democracy Docket filed three separate lawsuits on behalf of registered voters in three states, asking courts in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania to intervene and set up timelines for enacting court-drawn maps for the 2022 election cycle “in the near-certain event” that governors and legislatures in each state fail to do so. The substantive language used in the three suits is similar. All three allege that “there is no reasonable prospect that … political branches will reach consensus to enact” lawful district maps in a timely manner because the three states operate under divided governments (i.e., both the Democratic and Republican parties control at least one of the following: the governorship, the upper chamber of the state legislature, and the lower chamber).

New York Gov. Cuomo mulls legal challenge over loss of congressional seat: On April 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told reporters that he was considering the state’s “legal options” with respect to New York’s loss of one congressional seat to reapportionment. According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state could have kept the seat if 89 additional New York residents had been counted. Cuomo said, “Do I think it was accurate within 89? No. And we’re looking at legal options. Because when you’re talking about 89, that could be a minor mistake in counting.” According to Janna Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, no state has ever succeeded in challenging apportionment counts in court.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court appoints chairman of state legislative redistricting commission: On May 3, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced the appointment of Mark Nordenberg as chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Nordenberg, Chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, joins Sen. Majority Leader Kim Ward (R), Sen. Minority Leader Jay Costa (D), House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R), and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton (D). The state supreme court appointed Nordenberg as chairman after the four other members of the commission failed to agree on an appointment. The commission has the sole authority to draft and implement new state legislative district maps.

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