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Stories about New York

Hochul wins Democratic primary for Governor of New York

Incumbent Kathy Hochul defeated Tom Suozzi and Jumaane Williams in the Democratic primary for governor of New York on June 28, 2022. Based on unofficial returns, Hochul received 67.3% of the vote, followed by Williams with 20.0% and Suozzi with 12.6%. Hochul, previously New York’s lieutenant governor, became governor in August 2021 following the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Hochul was first elected lieutenant governor in 2014. She served one term in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013. The Democratic Party of New York endorsed Hochul at its state convention in February 2022. Hochul’s other endorsements include U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, 12 members of the state’s U.S. House delegation, 77 members of the state Legislature, and four New York City borough Democratic parties (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens). Public safety was a key issue of Hochul’s campaign. In response to a May 2022 shooting in Buffalo, New York, Hochul said, “New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger. New Yorkers deserve to feel safe in schools, in grocery stores, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, and on our streets — and we must do everything in our power to protect them.”

Williams was elected New York City Public Advocate in 2019 and served on the New York City Council from 2009 to 2019. Our Revolution, the Working Families Party, two state legislators, nine members of the New York City Council, and 2021 Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton endorsed Williams. Williams campaigned on housing, public safety, and healthcare. Williams said he believed that housing is a human right and the government must play a role in providing it, that public safety required creating thriving communities, and that New York should enact a universal, single-payer healthcare system.

Suozzi was elected to the U.S. House in 2016. Suozzi criticized Hochul for “pandering to the far left” and said his campaign was focused on “reducing taxes, making New York more affordable and cutting crime.” Suozzi said, “I’ve always known that taxes are the biggest drawback in our state. Our state and local taxes are one of the highest taxes in the United States of America and it’s one of the reasons people leave to these lower tax states, like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.” New York City Councilmember Robert Holden and former councilmember Diana Reyna endorsed Suozzi.



New York sees increase in state legislative incumbents facing contested primaries this year

Fifty-one of the 191 New York state legislators running for re-election this year—46 Democrats and five Republicans—face contested primaries. That equals 27% of incumbents seeking re-election, an increase from previous election cycles. The remaining 73% of incumbents are not facing primary challengers.

A contested primary is one where more candidates run than nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

The total number of contested primaries—including those without incumbents—also increased compared to recent election cycles. With 213 districts, there are 426 possible primaries every election cycle.

This year, there are 75 contested primaries (18%): 60 Democratic primaries and 15 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 53 in 2020, a 13% increase. For Republicans, the number increased 150% to 15 compared to six contested primaries in 2020.

New York allows fusion voting, where more than one political party can support a common candidate. It is common for candidates to seek both major and third-party nominations. Under this system, if a candidate loses one primary but wins another, he or she may appear on the general election ballot with the nomination of the party won.

New York is holding two separate primaries this year due to delays caused by redistricting. Primaries in the 150 Assembly districts are scheduled for June 28. The 63 Senate districts will hold primaries on August 23.

Across both chambers, 25 of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, a decrease from the 33 open districts in 2020 but up from the 18 in 2018.

Overall, 468 major party candidates filed to run this year: 291 Democrats and 177 Republicans.

New York has been a Democratic trifecta since the party won a clear majority in the Senate in 2018. Democrats had held a numerical majority before that time, but Republicans controlled the chamber through a series of power-sharing agreements and Democratic members caucusing with the party.

Democrats currently hold a 106-43-1 majority in the Assembly and a 43-20 majority in the Senate.

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New York court overturns state Assembly map for 2024; rules existing boundaries be used for this year’s elections

An appellate division of the New York Supreme Court ruled on June 10 that the state’s Assembly district boundaries adopted in February 2022 were invalid but should still be used for the 2022 legislative elections. The appellate division ruling determined that the Assembly district map was enacted in violation of the state’s constitutional redistricting process and that a New York City-based state trial court should oversee new boundaries for the 2024 elections.

The court’s order said, “The petition is timely to the extent it seeks a declaration that the February 2022 assembly map is invalid due to procedural infirmities in the manner in which it was adopted…and, consistent with that decision, we so declare.” The order also said, “The request for a delay of the 2022 assembly primary elections is denied in any event, because the redrawing and implementing of a new assembly map before a 2022 primary election delayed even until September is, at this late date, no longer feasible.”

New York enacted new state Senate districts on May 20 when Steuben County Surrogate Court Justice Patrick McAllister ordered the adoption of maps drawn by a court-appointed redistricting special master. McAllister had overturned the Senate district boundaries on March 31 for violating the state’s process for redistricting. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, upheld McAllister’s decision on April 27. On April 29, McAllister postponed New York’s primary elections for congressional and legislative districts to August 23.

In 2014, New York voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing new redistricting procedures beginning in 2020. This amendment created a 10-member commission to adopt redistricting plans, with state legislative leaders appointing eight members of the commission and the commission itself selecting the other two members. The amendment required that the legislature reject two separate sets of redistricting plans before amending the commission’s proposals and districts not be drawn to favor or disfavor candidates or parties. In prior redistricting cycles, the legislature was responsible for its own redistricting.

The commission voted 5-5 on January 3, 2022, on two sets of proposals for legislative redistricting, so it submitted both sets of proposals to the legislature. Both the state Assembly and state Senate voted down the map proposals on January 10 and the commission did not submit a new set of maps to the legislature. On February 3, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed new state legislative district boundaries that the legislature had developed after the state Senate approved them 43-20 and the state Assembly approved, 120-27.

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Three candidates running in the Democratic primary for governor of New York

Incumbent Kathy Hochul, Tom Suozzi, and Jumaane Williams are running in the Democratic primary election for Governor of New York on June 2, 2022. Hochul is running for re-election to a full term. Hochul, previously New York’s lieutenant governor, became governor in August 2021 following the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Hochul was first elected lieutenant governor in 2014. She served one term in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013. The Democratic Party of New York endorsed Hochul at its state convention in February 2022. Her other endorsements include U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, 12 members of the state’s U.S. House delegation, 77 members of the state legislature, and four New York City boroughs Democratic parties (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens). Public safety is a key policy of Hochul’s campaign. In response to a May 2022 shooting in Buffalo, New York, Hochul said, “New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger. New Yorkers deserve to feel safe in schools, in grocery stores, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, and on our streets — and we must do everything in our power to protect them.”

Suozzi was elected to the U.S. House in 2016. New York City Councilmember Robert Holden and former councilmember Diana Reyna endorsed Suozzi. Suozzi criticized Hochul for what he called “pandering to the far left” and said his campaign was focused on “reducing taxes, making New York more affordable and cutting crime.” Suozzi also said his campaign would focus on lowering taxes. “I’ve always known that taxes are the biggest drawback in our state. Our state and local taxes are one of the highest taxes in the United States of America and it’s one of the reasons people leave to these lower tax states, like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida,” he said.

Williams was elected New York City Public Advocate in 2019 and served on the New York City Council from 2009 to 2019. Our Revolution, the Working Families Party, two members of the state legislature, nine members of the New York City Council, and 2021 Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton endorsed Williams. Williams’ policy platform on his website has three pillars: housing, public safety, and healthcare. Williams said he believes that housing is a human right and the government must play a role in providing it, that public safety requires creating thriving communities, and that New York should enact a universal, single-payer healthcare system.

Candidates for the positions of governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. Candidates for governor may choose to endorse a candidate for lieutenant governor as an unofficial running mate. Suozzi endorsed Diana Reyna and Williams endorsed Ana Maria Archila. Hochul initially endorsed then-Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin (D). Following Benjamin’s resignation, Hochul appointed Antonio Delgado as lieutenant governor and endorsed him.



New York court adopts new congressional, state senate maps

New York enacted new congressional and state senate districts on May 20, 2022, when Justice Patrick McAllister ordered the adoption of maps drawn by redistricting special master Jonathan Cervas. New York was apportioned 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one fewer than it received after the 2010 census. These maps will take effect for New York’s 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

McAllister overturned New York’s state senate and congressional maps on March 31, 2022. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed the initial maps into law on February 3, 2022.

McAllister wrote in his May 20 order, “​​the court believes the maps remain almost perfectly neutral, meaning the maps do not favor or disfavor any political party.” 

Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, said, “It’s clear he listened to the extensive comments sent to the court, including ours and those of the Unity Maps, as the maps now reflect a deeper understanding of minority and other communities’ interests. Ultimately, as he indicates, he valued compactness above all else.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) criticized the congressional map, saying, “the court of appeals was wrong in the decision that they made both on the substance and in terms of turning over redistricting to an out of town, unelected special master and a judicial overseer in Steuben County, who was a Republican.” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) also criticized the map, saying “by splitting [Black] communities, the map further alienates them and perpetuates the opportunity for further historical neglect by the electoral system. […] Their voting power is directly tied to their lives and they deserve a fair chance at electing representatives that take their unique needs into full consideration.”

As of May 20, 2022, 41 states have adopted congressional district maps. One state’s maps have been overturned by court action and two states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Six states were apportioned one U.S. House district, so no congressional redistricting is required. As of May 20, 2012, 42 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Forty-seven states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers. A court in one state has overturned previously enacted maps, a court in one state has overturned a map for one chamber, and one state has not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of May 20, 2012, 46 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,870 of 1,973 state Senate seats (94.8%) and 5,214 of 5,413 state House seats (96.3%). Congressional redistricting has been completed for 398 of the 435 seats (91.5%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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New York governor’s budget bill increases November bond measure from $3 billion to $4.2 billion

New York governor’s budget bill increases November bond measure from $3 billion to $4.2 billion

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed budget legislation on April 9 that increased a statewide bond measure from $3 billion to $4.2 billion. Titled the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, the ballot measure would require the bond revenue to be divided between projects classified as climate change mitigation, flood-risk reduction, water infrastructure, and land conservation and recreation. In 2021, the state Legislature voted to put the measure on the ballot for Nov. 8, 2022. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) first called for the bond measure in his 2020 State of the State Address. 

The revised ballot measure would require that bond issue revenue be distributed as follows:

  • up to $1.50 billion for air and water pollution reduction projects; wetland protections to address sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding; relocating or retrofitting facilities; green building projects; solar arrays, heat pumps, and wind turbines in public low-income housing areas; zero-emission school buses; street trees and urban forest programs; green roofs and reflective roofs; and carbon sequestration on natural and working lands;
  • at least $1.10 billion for flood-risk reduction, coastal and shoreline restoration, relocating and repairing flood-prone infrastructure and roadways, and ecological restoration projects;
  • up to $650.00 million for land conservation and recreation plans, programs, and projects, as well as fish hatcheries;
  • at least $650.00 million for projects related to wastewater, sewage, and septic infrastructure; lead service line replacement; riparian buffers; stormwater runoff reduction; agricultural nutrient runoff reduction; and addressing harmful algal blooms.

The ballot measure would provide that at least 35% of bond revenue must benefit disadvantaged communities. The Climate Justice Working Group, housed within the state Department of Environmental Conservation, is responsible for defining disadvantaged communities. The 13-member working group is required to consider socioeconomic criteria, pollution and environmental hazard, and areas vulnerable to flooding, storm surge, and urban heat island effects. A draft list of disadvantaged communities was released on March 9.

Besides the $1.2-billion increase in bond amount, the revisions require that at least $500 million be used to fund zero-emission school buses and supporting infrastructure, such as charging stations, as part of the state’s goal of having a 100% electric school bus fleet by 2035. 

Both chambers of the state Legislature approved budget legislation, which contained the bond measure revisions, on April 8. In the Senate, the vote was 48-15, with Democrats and five Republicans supporting the budget bill. The other 15 Republicans opposed the bill. In the Assembly, the vote was 113-35. Of the 113 in favor, 101 were Democrats, 11 were Republicans, and one was a member of the Independence Party. Four Democrats and 31 Republicans opposed the bill in the Assembly.

New York voters last decided a statewide bond measure in 2014. Voters approved a $2-billion bond for education facilities and classroom equipment. Between 1990 and 2021, statewide ballots featured seven bond issues. Voters approved three (43%) of the bond issues. Voters rejected four (57%) of the bond issues.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 13

March 10, 2022

In this issue: Working Families Party endorsements in NY congressional races and Israel an early issue in MI-11

NY Working Families Party endorses in NY-11, NY-12

The New York Working Families Party endorsed Brittany Ramos DeBarros in New York’s 11th Congressional District primary and Rana Abdelhamid in the 12th District primary. Spectrum News 1 reported that former Rep. Max Rose in the 11th District and incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the 12th had sought the party’s endorsement.

Both Abdelhamid and Ramos DeBarros are members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Rose was elected to the 11th District in 2018 and lost in 2020 to Nicole Malliotakis (R). The Working Families Party did not endorse in the 11th District primary or general elections in 2020. The party did not endorse in the 12th District primary that year, though it did back Maloney’s general election bid. Maloney was first elected to the House in 1992.

New York uses fusion voting. More than one political party can support the same candidate, and that candidate appears on the same ballot multiple times under different party lines (for example, the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party).

NY-11

Ramos DeBarros, a veteran, said last year in response to a question on Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, “There are a lot of people who have been left behind by the political establishment that always courts the margins in the center while we have hundreds of thousands of constituents who don’t turn out because they aren’t inspired.” Click here to read her full survey.

Rose, also a veteran, said after announcing his bid in December that he would spend time “earning people’s trust across the political spectrum and talking about ways in which we can actually fix people’s problems. Not just dividing us.”

Komi Agoda-Koussema is also running in the primary.

NY-12

Abdelhamid founded a women’s defense nonprofit and works for Google. She said, “Representative Maloney has spent nearly 30 years taking millions of dollars from developers and Wall Street banks profiting off our suffering. People don’t feel represented when 50% of Congress is made up of millionaires.” 

When announcing her bid for a 16th term, Maloney said, “Now more than ever, our city needs innovative leaders to spearhead our rebuilding from the COVID-19 crisis … From securing federal funding to help New Yorkers get vaccinated, pay their rent, and feed their families, I have led efforts that will enable New York City and New York State to build back better.”


As we wrote last month, there are several other candidates running in the primary, including Suraj Patel, who challenged Maloney in 2018 and 2020. 

The primaries are set for June 28.

Israel an early issue in MI-11 primary

On March 3, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee endorsed Rep. Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District primary, where she faces fellow Rep. Andy Levin due to redistricting. The groups Democratic Majority for Israel and Pro-Israel America have also endorsed Stevens. The group J Street endorsed Levin.

Jewish Insider wrote, “The debate within the Democratic Party over the future of its support of the U.S.-Israel relationship and what it means to be pro-Israel is set to play out in stark fashion” in this district’s primary.

Levin introduced the Two-State Solution Act in the House in September. The bill would prohibit the U.S. “from providing support for projects in geographic regions that came under Israeli control after June 5, 1967. It also prohibits the use of any U.S. security assistance, defense articles, or defense services provided to Israel for efforts to annex or exercise permanent control over any part of the West Bank or Gaza,” according to the bill summary. It also allows for temporarily waiving some restrictions on the Palestine Liberation Organization and contains provisions for product labeling and development assistance.

Pro-Israel American Executive Director Jeff Mendelsohn said the Act was “unhelpful to the U.S.’s relationship to Israel and the peace process itself” and one of the reasons his group endorsed Stevens. 

J Street supports the Two-State Solution Act. A J Street representative said Levin “embodies what it looks like to combine love for Israel with concern for its future and a commitment to core Jewish values of peace, justice and equality.”

Sumukh Kallur is also running in the primary, scheduled for Aug. 2.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette endorses in Colorado’s new 8th District

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-01) endorsed state Sen. Yadira Caraveo in the Democratic primary for Colorado’s newly created 8th Congressional District covering Denver’s northern suburbs. The state was apportioned eight U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, a one-seat gain.

In a statement, DeGette said, “As a pediatrician and state legislator, Dr. Caraveo knows how to have tough conversations and take on tough fights — and it’s long past time for Coloradans to elect our first Latina U.S. representative.”

Chaz Tedesco, Johnny Humphrey, and Joshua Rodriguez are also running so far. 

Tedesco has been a member of the Adams County Commission since 2012 and has endorsements from several labor unions, including the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the International Association of Firefighters, and Local 9 of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.

Johnny Humphrey describes himself as a moderate Democrat and is the director of Inclusivity Services for The Center on Colfax, an LGBTQ nonprofit organization. 

Joshua Rodriguez sought the Unity Party’s nomination for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020. Rodriguez was arrested last month on charges including identity theft and attempting to influence a public servant.

The Denver Post‘s Alex Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022 — though Democrats may have a slight advantage.” He also said that the district “is projected to have the highest concentration of Latino voters of any U.S. House district in the state.”

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

U.S. Rep Matt Cartwright endorses Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary

On March 5, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) endorsed fellow Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) in the Democratic Senate primary. Lamb also announced endorsements from several Democratic state representatives. 

Lamb is one of 12 candidates running in the primary. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D) have also received several endorsements. 

Fetterman served as mayor of Braddock from 2005 to 2019. His endorsers include current Braddock Mayor Delia Lennon-Winstead, the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, the United Steelworkers District 10, and UFCW Local 1776.

Kenyatta’s endorsers include the American Federation of Teachers, the Working Families Party, Brand New Congress, and U.S. Reps. Al Green (D-Texas) and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.).

In addition to Cartwright’s endorsement, Lamb’s other endorsers include the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee’s Latino Caucus, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and several labor organizations. 

As we wrote last month, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party did not endorse in the primary at its Jan. 29 meeting. Lamb received 61% support on the final ballot and Fetterman received 23%. A candidate needed two-thirds of the vote to win the endorsement. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Julia Terruso wrote that the three candidates disagree on federal marijuana legalization, fracking moratoriums, and the Electoral College. 

  • Terruso said Kenyatta supports a moratorium on new fracking sites, while Fetterman and Lamb “both oppose any ban, favoring a more gradual transition from natural gas.”
  • Fetterman and Kenyatta support federal recreational marijuana legalization—which Fetterman has made a top priority—while Lamb supports state and local decriminalization along with legalized medical marijuana. 
  • Kenyatta supports, and Fetterman and Lamb oppose, abolishing the Electoral College.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. The primary is May 17.

Defeated incumbents tracker

We’ll be tracking how many state legislative incumbents are defeated throughout 2022. Here’s some very preliminary data after Texas’ March 1 primaries. Note that the following includes incumbents filed and in contested primaries from six states (Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Texas, and West Virginia). The “defeated” column only includes data from Texas, which holds primary runoffs for some seats in May. 

Former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts endorses Tobias Read in primary

On March 3, former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts (D) endorsed state Treasurer Tobias Read in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Roberts, the first woman elected governor in the state, served a single term from 1991 to 1995.

Roberts said, “Oregon needs a governor with a statewide record of tackling tough issues, delivering results, and fighting for Oregonians living in every corner of this great state.”

The Willamette Week said the endorsement was “somewhat surprising and a big boost for Read” in light of key endorsements former House Speaker Tina Kotek has received, including from the Service Employees International Union and the Oregon Education Association. The paper says Kotek and Read are the leading primary candidates.

Seventeen candidates filed for the Democratic primary, including Kotek and Read. 

Incumbent Kate Brown (D), who first took office following John Kitzhaber’s (D) resignation in 2015, is term-limited. The primary is May 17. Democrats have won the last 10 gubernatorial elections in Oregon, the longest winning streak for either party in state history.

Competitiveness data: Indiana’s primaries

Indiana’s filing deadline for federal and state elections was Feb. 4. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

U.S. House

State legislature

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Nikki Lucas and Manny De Los Santos win New York State Assembly special elections

Two special general elections were held for New York State Assembly Districts 60 and 72 on Feb. 15.

Nikki Lucas (D) won the District 60 special election with 2,074 votes, defeating Keron Alleyne (Working Families Party) and Marvin King (R, Conservative Party). The District 60 special election was called after Charles Barron (D) was sworn in as a New York City council member on Jan. 1. Barron served in the state Assembly from 2015 to 2021.

Manny De Los Santos (D) won the District 72 special election with 1,425 votes, defeating Edwin De La Cruz (R) and Nayma Silver-Matos (Uptown Rises). The District 72 special election was called after Carmen N. De La Rosa (D) was sworn in as a New York City council member on Jan. 1. De La Rosa served in the state Assembly from 2017 to 2021.

The filing deadline for both special elections passed on Jan. 18. Lucas and De Los Santos were sworn in on Feb 17. 

As of February, 39 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in 19 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. New York held 48 special elections from 2010 to 2021, the third-most of any state.

Entering the special election, the New York State Assembly had 105 Democrats, 43 Republicans, one independent, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 76 seats. New York has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. 

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New York enacts new congressional and legislative maps

New York enacted new congressional and legislative districts on Feb. 3, 2022, when Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed legislatively approved proposals into law. New York was apportioned 26 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one fewer than it received after the 2010 census. The congressional and legislative maps will take effect for New York’s 2022 elections.

The New York State Senate approved the congressional map 43-20, and the New York State Assembly approved the map 103-45 on Feb. 2. The following day, both chambers approved the state Senate and House maps, which were housed in a single bill. The state Senate voted 43-20 to approve, and the state House voted 120-27 to approve.

Following the passage of the maps, Hochul said: “These bills are necessary to reapportion districts and to provide certainty and clarity regarding such districts in a timely manner, allowing for efficient administration of the electoral process.” State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy criticized the maps, saying: “There is a wild, partisan gerrymandering that took place here. It violates the state Constitution, and we’re going to try to get justice.”

Due to the passage of a state constitutional amendment in 2014, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission originally was responsible for drafting congressional and state legislative maps. The commission would then submit a proposal to the New York State Legislature for approval. The commission had ten members: Democratic legislative leaders appointed four, Republican legislative leaders appointed four, and those eight members voted to select two more.

The commission first met to vote on congressional and legislative maps on Jan. 3. The commission voted 5-5, so it submitted two sets of proposals to the legislature. The New York State Legislature voted down the map proposals on Jan. 10, meaning the commission had until Jan. 25 to draw new maps. The commission announced on Jan. 24 it would not be submitting a new set of maps to the legislature. Since the commission did not transmit maps, the legislature assumed authority over redistricting. This meant the maps required Hochul’s signature to be enacted.

Following the commission’s Jan. 3 tie vote, Commission Vice Chair Jack Martins, a Republican, said: “We didn’t reach agreement, simply because one side turned their backs and walked away.” Commission Chair David Imamura, a Democrat, said: “I did not join this commission to allow my Republican colleagues to hold hostage the hopes of New York’s most disadvantaged voters in an effort to regain GOP majorities.” The Buffalo News editorial board wrote of the tie vote: “That outcome was baked into the system created by a 2014 constitutional amendment. With both parties angling for advantage, the failure of Republicans and Democrats to agree was inevitable. Balanced is not the same as independent.”

Twenty-seven states have adopted new congressional maps, and one state has approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect as of Feb. 4. Federal or state courts have blocked previously adopted maps in two states, and 13 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Thirty-five states had enacted congressional redistricting plans as of February 4, 2012.

Thirty-one states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers, and one state has adopted maps that have not yet gone into effect as of Feb. 4. The state supreme court in one state has overturned previously enacted maps, and 17 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Thirty-six states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census as of February 4, 2012.

Nationwide, states have completed legislative redistricting for 1,305 of 1,972 state Senate seats (66.2%), 2,976 of 5,411 state House seats (55.0%), and 299 of the 435 seats (68.7%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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New Yorkers reject redistricting and voting ballot measures, approve environmental rights amendment

On November 2, voters in New York passed two constitutional amendments and rejected three.  The approved measures were Proposal 2, an environmental rights amendment, and Proposal 5, a judicial measure. Voters rejected Proposal 1 concerning redistricting processes and Proposal 3 and Proposal 4, which would have allowed for same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Proposal 2 received 68.9% of the vote. Proposal 2 added a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. As of 2021, at least six state constitutions included language on environmental rights, including neighboring Pennsylvania. 

Proposal 5 received 62.9% of the vote. It allowed the New York City Civil Court to hear and decide lawsuits involving claims of $50,000, rather than the current threshold of $25,000. The New York City Civil Court is a trial court with jurisdiction in New York City. The NYC Civil Court’s original jurisdiction was on claims of $10,000 or less. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1983 that increased the court’s jurisdiction from $10,000 to $25,000. In 1995, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to increase the NYC Civil Court claims jurisdiction from $25,000 to $50,000.

Proposal 3 and Proposal 4 addressed voting policies and were rejected by 57.7% and 55.8% of voters, respectively, according to results on election night. Proposal 3 would have removed the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus authorizing the state legislature to pass a statute for a requirement of fewer than 10 days, such as same-day voter registration. Proposal 4 would have authorized the state legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting.

Proposal 1 would have made several changes to redistricting in New York. With 99% of precincts reporting, 55.8% voted “No” on Proposal 1. The constitutional amendment would have changed the vote thresholds for adopting redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative chambers. It would have also

  1. required that incarcerated persons be counted at the place of their last residence for redistricting;
  2. required the state to count residents, including people who are residents but not citizens, should the federal census fail to do so;
  3. removed the block-on-border requirement for Senate districts;
  4. capped the number of state senators at 63; and
  5. moved up the timeline for redistricting and repealed inoperative language.

Between 1995 and 2020, New York voters addressed 25 constitutional amendments, approving 19 (76%) of them. At the 2021 election, voters approved 2 of 5 amendments or 40%.