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Broome County redistricting committee approves newly redrawn district map

Phoebe Taylor-Vuolo
The Broome County Legislature’s redistricting committee approved a new map Monday, which uses updated census data and does not split the town of Maine.

The Broome County Legislature's redistricting committee voted to approve a newly redrawn district map this week. The map now goes to a full vote of the county legislature.

This comes after a legal battle over the legislature’s previous attempt to redraw its districts. In 2022, a group of residents who sued over the map felt it favored Republicans and relied on incomplete census data. Last month, a New York appeals court backed a lower court's ruling rejecting the map and requiring the county legislature to draw it again.

The appeals court ruled that the county’s map violated state law, largely because the map split the town of Maine into three separate districts.

On Monday, the Broome County Legislature’s redistricting committee approved a new map, which uses updated census data and does not split the town of Maine.

“We came up with a reasonable solution that allowed for the town of Maine to be held together with parts of the town of Union, which makes sense because they're part of the [Maine-Endwell] school district, there's ambulance districts, fire districts, there's common interest up there as well,” Republican Legislature Chairman Dan Reynolds said.

Democratic Legislator Mark Whalen voted against the map. He said the process was rushed. He was notified about the proposed redrawn maps last week.

“It takes time to look at all the subtleties of redistricting. The chairman had basically three weeks to pull this map together and he gives it to us an hour before the meeting and says vote on this. That's not the way it should work,” Whalen said.

He added while the new map does seem to address the legal issues the appeals court brought up, he feels it still gives an advantage to county Republicans.

Chairman Reynolds said the map does not favor any party. He said lawmakers are not allowed to use voter enrollment data when redrawing the districts. Reynolds said that means they’d have no way to gerrymander the maps in their favor.

“To us, it was about keeping neighborhoods together. I couldn't tell you definitively on a census block what the partisanship is for each census block, and neither could any of the people that are in this room,” Reynolds said.

The Broome County Legislature still has to vote on the new map at its meeting on Dec. 27. After that, the county will hold a public hearing on the redrawn map before the county executive approves it.