State Senator Joe Griffo Accuses New York Democrats of Gerrymandering
Democrats are trying to redraw congressional districts in New York State, which State Senator Joe Griffo says will undermine the will of voters.
What's Going On?
New York’s highest court heard arguments Wednesday regarding a lawsuit brought on by state Democrats that seeks to overturn the current congressional map. The Court of Appeals in Buffalo will consider if the state's district lines need to be redrawn.
Congressional maps are updated every 10 years, after the U.S. Census releases its new data. This is to ensure the changes within a state's population and demographics are accurately reflected in future elections.
However, maps weren't redrawn in 2020 because the pandemic delayed the census data for two years.
The maps used for last year's election were supposed to be produced by an independent commission, made up of both Republicans and Democrats. In the end, the bipartisan group was unable to agree on a new map and relinquished the responsibility to the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Lawmakers drew a new map that critics say diluted the state's Republican vote. The biggest criticisms were that Democrats grouped Republican voters into GOP "super districts" and placed other conservative-leaning areas within Democratic strongholds. Republicans blocked the maps from going into effect by filing a legal challenge to the Court of Appeals, which agreed the maps were improper.
The responsibility of drawing new congressional districts was then given to an independent party. That map was used in the 2022 elections, where Republicans won a series of upsets that helped the party secure narrow majority in the U.S. House.
Democrats then filed suit and are demanding for new maps to be drawn.
Griffo, who represents Rome and is a Republican, condemned the move and accused Democrats of gerrymandering, which is the political manipulation of electoral districts to give a certain party an edge in elections.
If Democrats are successful in their latest legal challenge, pundits say they will redraw districts in a way that will give the party an edge in the 2024 elections and, possibly, control of the House of Representatives.
What Griffo Says
The Rome lawmaker released a fiery statement after arguments were heard on Wednesday. He called the move "ridiculous" and accused Democrats of trying to "gerrymander new congressional districts."
He called the current map "nonpolitical, fair and transparent," which he says voters support.
He added Democrats are also disregarding the will of the people and are actively undermining a political process in order to benefit themselves - and not the public.
I understand that a court’s opinion may evolve over time and that there are new judges in place. However, the court deciding to engage on this issue a little over a year after appointing an independent special master to draw the latest district lines makes no sense. It establishes a dangerous precedent where our judicial system appears to be or is becoming political, which has accordingly contributed to an erosion of confidence in the judiciary.
He closed by expressing hope the state's highest court will respect the will of voters - and not a political party.
As for why Republicans were able to flip a series of seats, pundits credit a strong GOP turnout at the polls.
That said, it appears New York will be a battleground state in 2024 - if the current map of congressional districts is upheld.
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Gallery Credit: Cameron Coats