Democrats filed a lawsuit challenging the state Court of Appeal’s recent decision to delay New York’s congressional primary and scrap the lines enacted by the state Legislature.

Context: The Democrats’ case rests on a 2012 decision that found New York’s previous calendar of holding primaries in September was too late to ensure military voters stationed overseas would receive their ballots in time. At the time, a federal judge said that the fourth Tuesday in June would be the new date for congressional primary votes, unless the state enacted “legislation resetting the non-presidential federal primary election” for a date that would let military voters receive their ballots and this new date “is approved by [the federal] court.” (per POLITICO)

The Court of Appeals ordered the primary to be delayed from June 28 to give a special master appointed by a Steuben County judge a chance to draw new lines. The Steuben County judge has since set the date for Aug. 23.

What Happened: Voters working with Democracy Docket, an organization founded by Marc Elias, a former lawyer for Hillary Clinton brought the federal lawsuit on Monday challenging the New York congressional primary date and congressional lines.

What It Means: The lines that were tossed would have left Democrats well-positioned to pick up three congressional seats in New York, despite the fact the size of the state’s delegation shrinks from 27 to 26 due to slow population growth.

What Democrats Say: New York “has never sought approval from the court to be released from the injunction,” the lawsuit said. “Nor is there any reason to believe the court would have approved a late August primary had it sought authorization to do so.”


The litigant argued that because the state has no choice but to hold its primaries next month the only option is to use the lines that were struck down by the Court of Appeals.

“Because this court has a short window to implement such a plan — certainly not enough time to retain a special master and craft its own — this court should adopt the plan passed by the New York Legislature,” they say. “It is the plan that all of New York’s congressional candidates campaigned under, gathered petitions under, and are prepared to run under.” (per POLITICO)

What Comes Next: It is unclear whether the lawsuit might change the current path to redraw the lines for House seats as well as state Senate seats. 

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