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Redistricting commission created to promote unity releases two partisan maps

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Maps of proposed New York congressional districts were released Wednesday. At left is the map released by the Republican members of the commission. At right is the map released by Democrats.

The state’s independent redistricting commission was unable to avoid partisan divides, releasing two opposing maps to redesign congressional and state elected office districts, one backed by Democrats, the other backed by Republicans.

Several commissioners from both parties expressed disappointment that they could not agree on just one set of maps.

GOP Commissioner Charlie Nesbitt questioned whether releasing two different maps is even constitutional, under the rules set up for what is supposed to be a politically independent body.

“We’re here at the behest of the people of New York, who went through the difficult process of changing the constitution of the state to get rid of the gerrymandering of the past,” said Nesbitt. “Let’s just do better.”

Nesbitt, along with the other commissioners, voted to approve both maps. Public hearings will be held around the state in late October and early November, before final maps are drawn by Jan. 15.

There is one element that all commissioners will have to agree on. The state needs to eliminate one congressional district, from 27 to 26. New York lost population relative to other states in the 2020 census.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.