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Activists: Redrawn NY congressional maps unfair to minority voters

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York activists are voicing serious concerns about the state’s new congressional maps.

The state’s top court ordered new voting-district maps to be drawn by an independent commission last year, but critics of the new maps point out they are similar to 2022 maps, which favored Republican candidates. Groups have signed a letter demanding state lawmakers create new maps to prevent districts where majority-white communities overrule the needs of people of color.

Tamika D. Mallory, co-founder of the social justice group Until Freedom, said the new maps could lead to low voter turnout.

“When people don’t see candidates that they believe in, people that they trust and people who they know have a real, true understanding of the dynamics of their community and their needs,” she said, “people do not feel motivated to go to the polls.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

She likened the current situation to Southern states, now engaged in lengthy legal battles to redraw district maps that disenfranchised Black voters. Given the ire of voters and lawmakers, it’s uncertain whether New York’s maps will be approved, but new maps are needed soon for April’s presidential primary and the November general election.

As community needs differ from one to the next, Mallory said she worries about how the new maps could affect the distribution of resources. She added that neighborhoods shouldn’t be broken by congressional lines that would skew district issues.

“Those communities are able to stay together, vote together,” she said, “and ultimately put people in place that have the type of mindset and political agenda that will enhance the needs and serve the needs of the people.”

Mallory said there’s plenty of community feedback from people concerned about having elected officials they once voted for no longer representing them. But polls show around 85% of Americans are unfamiliar with their state’s legislative redistricting. Even so, 24% say they’re dissatisfied with how it’s been handled.