A federal judge in Albany on Tuesday authorized New York to delay the congressional primary vote until August, a delay that would give more time for a neutral expert to map the congress. new for this year’s midterm competition.
The scheduling changed all but killed the last attempt of the National Democrats to preserve the district lines that would have helped them maintain control of the House but were declared dead. unconstitutional in a series of court decisions.
Democrats have placed dim hopes on a decades-old federal court order setting a June preliminary date to protect Americans’ right to vote from abroad. But Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the Northern District of New York said he saw no reason to uphold that date.
“It is clear that amending the prior court order is reasonable and necessary to avoid turmoil for all New York voters – overseas or not,” he wrote.
The order is the latest – and possibly final – twist in a high-stakes legal dispute over the congressional map of New York that has raged for two months in federal and state courts. states, making the election season chaotic.
The State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, rule at the end of April that Democratic leaders violated the State Constitution when they passed new congressional and State Senate district lines earlier this year. The judges also found that the congressional map was an unacceptable partisan traitor, and ordered a special expert appointed by the court to recreate both sets of maps.
The trial court judge overseeing the case, Patrick F. McAllister, then delayed the Congressional and State Senate runs until August to allow time for the new maps to be made. (Preliminary agency for governor and other offices across the state will still take place in June.)
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With the state courts going against them, national Democrats tried their luck in federal courts last week, asking judges to intervene in the dispute on technical grounds to emphasized that the state held its primary in June on the same Democratic-friendly map as state courts.
In a preliminary hearing on the matter last week, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York dismissed Democrats’ request for a temporary restraining order and harshly criticized the legal arguments. their reason.
“Let’s be frank,” Judge Kaplan said. “This is a Hail Mary card, the purpose is to try a long shot on conducting the New York primaries on county lines that the state considers unconstitutional.”
Citing his father, a Ukrainian refugee, the judge warned that agreeing with the Democrats’ argument “to some extent affects the public perception” of free elections and respect. important to the court.
Democrats can still try to contest the decision in a federal appeals court, but legal analysts say the chances of success are slim. Those judges will hesitate to second guess Judges Sharpe and Kaplan, especially since the New York State Board of Elections and the Department of Justice in Washington do not object to moving the primaries.
Spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Advocacy Committee, the funding agency lawsuit, accusing the Board of Elections of “openly undermining the voting rights of New Yorkers living abroad and of men and women serving abroad.” Spokesman Chris Hayden did not say whether Democrats intend to appeal.
The bipartisan Electoral Council has said that, contrary to what Democrats have argued, a later primary date would leave plenty of time to comply with federal laws that protect voter oversight.
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For their part, Republicans were quick to celebrate another Democratic defeat and point out that their argument had failed before five different federal and state judges.
Democrat-drawn congressional map rejected by court will have give that party a clear advantage in 22 of New York’s 26 congressional districts, effectively winning three Democratic seats by packing Republicans in just a few districts. Court-drawn maps are widely expected to create more competitive counties.
The development of the new alternative map is well underway. On Friday, Justice McAllister, of the Steuben County Superior Court, and Jonathan Cervas, the special tutor he appointed to redraw the maps, heard testimony from nearly two dozen people about the need must preserve diverse communities of common interest or geographical boundaries.
Mr. Cervas is expected to present new maps of the state House and Senate to the court on May 16. But Democrats, led by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, are pushing for the judge to be appointed. additional hearings in New York City for voters of color to present. input.
On Tuesday, Justice McAllister heard separate arguments over whether to repeal the State Capitol districts that were approved by the State Legislature this year.
The Court of Appeals ruling did not apply to the Convention districts because the Republicans who brought the suit had not formally objected to them. Now, many parties are trying to intervene in the case to remove the Council districts.
Justice McAllister cast doubt on prospects in Tuesday’s oral arguments, suggesting there isn’t enough time to replace the Society’s maps so late in an election year and doing so could be wasted. efforts because existing maps have bipartisan support, unlike congressional and Senate districts.
“I’m not sure this could work,” he said.
The judge is expected to give a ruling on the matter as early as Tuesday afternoon.