A federal judge on Tuesday blessed Albany County’s new political map, effectively ending a nearly four-year voting rights lawsuit triggered by a plan that shortchanged minority voters. Senior U.S. Judge Lawrence Kahn approved the map over the objections of the leadership of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee, which hoped to file a motion Wednesday arguing that the county used the court-ordered do-over to gerrymander at least one Democratic challenger out of an incumbent’s district. The new map was ordered by Kahn’s March 24 ruling that the county’s 2011 redistricting plan violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting African-American voting power — the third time in three decades the county has been forced to redraw its lines in the face of a Voting Rights Act challenge.
Kahn’s ruling froze all election activity for this year’s 39 legislative races until the county fixed the lines.
At issue was the refusal by the county’s 2011 redistricting commission to create a fifth legislative district in which minority voters are a majority, claiming it was impossible.
The new map does just that by carving an additional district out of Albany’s east side in which black voters are a majority.