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NY Democrats seek federal appeal in redistricting case

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Democratic officials are making a last-minute appeal to the federal courts after the top state court in New York rejected the lawmaker-drawn congressional maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander. 

The 17-page complaint alleges there is not enough time to draw new district lines, hold a June primary and comply with a federal law that requires timely access to military and overseas ballots. 

The lawsuit is the latest salvo in a months-long saga surrounding the redistricting process in New York, which state lawmakers took control of earlier this year following a commission created as part of a 2014 voter-approved amendment failed to reach an agreement on new district boundaries. 

And the legal challenge could further complicate a messy redistricting process tied up in state court over the last several weeks. 

The state Court of Appeals decision last week rejected both the U.S. House districts as well as the state Senate maps. A June 28 primary scheduled for those races could be moved to Aug. 23 as a result. 

But the complaint alleged New York "is in no position to meet its obligation to redraw its congressional district in time to conduct its congressional primary on June 28." 

The rejection of the maps by the state Court of Appeals was a victory for Republicans, who had argued the process violated the state constitution. Two additional legal challenges are being made to the state Assembly maps. 

A court-appointed special master was set to submit new House and state Senate maps on May 20. 

Republicans blasted the latest effort by Democrats to preserve the congressional maps. 

“This is the latest in a series of desperate actions taken by Democrats seeking to preserve their unconstitutional gerrymander of congressional and legislative districts in New York state," said former Rep. John Faso, who is advising the plaintiffs in the initial Republican-backed suit filed in state court. "The New York courts have ruled that the partisan districting violates our state Constitution. There is sufficient time to conduct an election under new, constitutional district lines. Unfortunately, NY Democrats continue in their efforts to rig elections in their favor. We’re confident the federal courts, like their state counterparts, will see through this deception.”

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