Back in November 2011, a group of New York community leaders, and persons interested in government and elections, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, asking the Court to take over redistricting of U.S. House and legislative districts, on the theory that the New York legislature had proved itself incapable of doing the job in a timely manner. That case is Favors v Cuomo, 11-cv-5632. It is before U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry. On February 10, the plaintiffs wrote a letter to Judge Irizarry, pleading for quick appointment of a 3-judge court, which would be needed for the court to take over redistricting. The letter says, in part, “The March 20 start to the candidate petitioning period is less than six weeks away, yet no congressional lines have even been proposed through New York’s legislative process.
It is now exceedingly unlikely that a new congressional redistricting plan can be proposed and passed by the legislative redistricting task force, referred to and passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, sent to the U.S. Department of Justice and precleared, all sufficiently in advance of March 20 so that candidates and their supporters can prepare for the petitioning period.”
The letter attaches the February 9 order of U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe (who is in Albany), which imposed a reduction in the number of signatures needed to get on a primary ballot and a reduction in the petitioning period. The period runs from March 20 through April 16, which is ten days shorter than the normal period. Judge Sharpe’s order is very critical of the New York legislature. It starts out, “New York has once again demonstrated its intransigent refusal to comply with a federal mandate protecting the federal voting rights of those serving in the military overseas and those otherwise living on foreign soil.”