PoliticsThe White Plains Examiner

Independent Redistricting Committee Reconvenes Over Congressional Map

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
New York Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Ken Jenkins, left, and Vice Chair Charles Nesbitt, who head the 10-member group, which has a Feb. 28 deadline to submit proposed new congressional districts to the state legislature.

The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) met in Albany last Thursday to start the process of redrawing congressional district lines for the 2024 elections.

Earlier in December, the IRC was ordered to draw new lines by the state Court of Appeals following a decision in a case brought by Democrats who argued the last map, drawn by a court-appointed master for the 2022 election, was meant to be used in only one election.

The 10-member commission comprised of five Republicans and five Democrats has a troubled and contentious history of stalemates, court appeals, accusations of gerrymandering, and failure to agree on new state maps. Prior to the 2022 elections, the court ordered a more neutral map to be drawn, which ultimately helped the Republican party flip four congressional seats held by Democrats, giving Republicans a small margin of control in the House of Representatives.

At the start of last week’s redistricting meeting, Commission Chair Ken Jenkins, a Democrat who is also the deputy Westchester County executive, said the commission takes its work on redistricting seriously.

“We are committed to proceeding expeditiously and in good faith in an attempt to submit proposed district lines to the legislature in advance of the court’s deadline,” Jenkins said.

The court order set a deadline of Feb. 28, 2024, for the new congressional maps to be submitted to the state legislature for approval. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 25, 2024.

If approved, the maps would go into effect for the 2024 election and be used until the next round of redistricting in 2032.

The court also ruled that the commission is not required to hold public hearings before drawing new map lines because the IRC already held public hearings two years ago.

Commission Vice Chair Charles Nesbitt, a Republican, said members are ready to work on the court charge.

“Under the authorization of the court we will be addressing congressional lines in New York,” Nesbitt said. “We will work very hard to resolve this in a timely fashion. I fully expect, based on our ability to work together previously, that we will meet the date set by the court and I look forward to doing that work.”

A new congressional map could impact all congressional districts throughout the state, perhaps none more so than New York 16. Democratic incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman is being challenged by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who announced his intentions to run for the seat a few weeks ago.

The district currently includes much of Westchester and a sliver of the northern Bronx.

As expected, when the Court of Appeals ruling came down on Dec. 12, Republicans lambasted the news while Democratic officials offered praise.

In a joint statement at the time, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and New York State Republican Chair Ed Cox

“The decision today opens the door for Democrats to rig our Congressional district lines so that elections are decided not by the voters, but by politicians in a back room,” their statement read.

But state Attorney General Letitia James said the court rightfully recognized that there should be greater equity for the residents of New York.

“Today’s redistricting decision will ensure all New Yorkers are fairly and equitably represented by elected officials,” said state Attorney General Letitia James. “As the Court of Appeals reaffirmed today, district lines should be drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission. We will continue our efforts to protect voting rights for all New Yorkers.”

A motion was made at the redistricting commissioner meeting to accept the resignation of co-executive director Darren McGeary and accept the appointment of Douglas Breakell, who had previously held the position.

The commission also re-appointed Redistricting Partners and Redistricting Insights, organizations that previously helped the commission create the maps.

“The commission re-engaged the same consultants who have worked with us in establishing the assembly plan,” Jenkins said.

Democratic Commissioner Dr. John Flateau, who attended the IRC meeting via Zoom, said he was looking forward to working with his colleagues to create fair maps.

“We are inspired that our chair Ken and our vice chair Charles will navigate us through this process in an expeditious and fair means as we forge forward,” he said.


We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.