Supreme Court Case Could Hurt Democrats in N.Y.

ALBANY

A pending U.S. Supreme Court case has the potential to overturn the political math in the New York State Senate and give Republicans a significant advantage as they seek to maintain a majority.

If Evenwel v. Abbott is decided in favor of the voters bringing the case, up to three seats with strong Democratic enrollment advantages might be erased from the map and an equivalent number of districts that lean Republican could be created.

“This case has the potential to be the biggest since 1962’s Baker v. Carr,” said Jeffrey Wice, a fellow at SUNY Buffalo Law School who has worked with New York’s Senate Democrats on redistricting in the past.

The Supreme Court decided last month to hear this case, which was brought by two Texans. They argue their state’s use of the total population of census tracts to reapportion Senate districts violates the standard of “one person, one vote.” This is since people who live in regions with significant numbers of ineligible or unregistered voters can cast ballots that carry more weight than those cast by high-vote neighborhoods.

In their view, the use of total population to draw district lines sometimes creates significantly unequal representation and should be replaced by measures like registered or eligible voters where this is the case.

A decision requiring states to base districts on eligible voters could cost Democrats at least two seats in New York. An analysis of ineligible voters shows they overwhelmingly reside in areas that are solidly Democratic.

If the court decides that lines should be drawn based on enrolled voters, the end result would similarly prove advantageous to Republicans, as New York City would lose nearly three Senate districts.

Reprinted with permission.

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