A Democratic victory in a redistricting suit led
to a December order from the state Court of Appeals for the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission to produce new draft congressional plans by Feb. 28.

Candidates are due to start collecting petitions to run for the still-to-be-drawn districts by Feb. 27.

To make the deadlines logistically possible, local boards of elections have said the entire redistricting process should be wrapped up well before the court’s deadline — ideally by sometime around Feb. 1.

And since the Legislature will need to vote on any lines produced by the commission and possibly draw their own, guaranteeing that Feb. 1 goal is met would mean the commission’s drafts would be produced a couple of weeks ahead of then.

That looks like an impossibility. In the waning days of January, commissioners have not scheduled a public meeting since a planning one was held a few days after Christmas. In 2022, the court ordered new lines, and
the primaries were pushed from June to August.

So whatever is happening with on the lines at this point is not happening publicly, much to the consternation of some redistricting reform advocates.

“Conducting business behind closed doors is unacceptable,” Common Cause New York executive director Susan Lerner said. “Open your doors to the people. The people who live in congressional districts deserve a say in who will represent them.”

Legislators are hopeful the process will kick into higher gear soon, but acknowledge the possibility that there might need to be some changes to the election calendar or petitioning rules if it doesn’t.

“We have not had any discussions on that, but I suspect we will be having them in short order,” said state Senate Elections Chair Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn).

One thing seems unlikely to happen: There’s very little chance at this point that there will be more public hearings to solicit feedback on the lines.

“The hearings were two years ago,” Lerner said. “Things have definitely changed, and relying on comments that were directed to the old maps doesn’t really give you much insight to what’s needed in the current situation.”

But the court’s December decision included a footnote saying the commission is not required to “conduct any solicitation of public commentary beyond what it has done previously.”

Commissioners are not planning to go beyond this.

In a statement shortly after the court ruling, the Democratic members — who had solicited written input in the months before the case was decided — noted they have already heard from 630 speakers and gathered 2,100 written submissions when the process started in 2021.

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