Voters head to polls in New York after multiple election changes led to a delayed primary

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 1:29 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - For voters in the Empire State, this election year is anything but normal.

Following months of Republicans and Democrats squabbling over where election lines should be drawn, voters are finally heading to the polls Tuesday for the state’s delayed primary.

“The redistricting saga began in New York last year,” said Binghamton University associate professor of political science Daniel Magleby. He noted, a judge decided to delay the primary in order to give communities more time to prepare the finalized election map.

A consensus on that map wasn’t reached until a political scientist from outside the state was appointed to draw it.

“They were drawn by a political scientist that was trying to split the difference and draw the fairest map possible. And at the end of the day, it’s left a lot of people, a lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans, frustrated with the kinds of districts that they now find themselves competing for office within,” said Magleby.

Redistricting has changed where the election lines are drawn in New York.
Redistricting has changed where the election lines are drawn in New York.(Gray TV)

That frustration and the redistricting debacle has forced many candidates to swap where they planned to run several times in order to land in a district most favorable to them.

Representative Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) is among them. Her once conservative 22nd district is far less conservative under the new New York election map. Therefore, she decided to run for the now more Republican 24th district.

“Tenney decided that she would prefer to run in a more Republican leaning district. And she is now running in the 24th Congressional District, which is actually almost completely outside of her former district. So it stretches from the outside of Syracuse all the way, wraps around Rochester and just to the outskirts of Buffalo across northern upstate New York,” said Magleby, who described Tenney as being loyal to former President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, communities are working to inform voters that their polling places may have changed as their districts have also changed.

Binghamton, which used to fall under Tenney’s 22nd district, has been moved to the highly competitive 19th.

That congressional seat is empty after Rep. Antonio Delgado left it to become lieutenant governor.

The newly-formed 19th Congressional District stretches from Binghamton and parts of Broome County across the Hudson River Valley.

“The 19th district is definitely more liberal than the 22nd Congressional district was. So it went from about a 55% vote for Donald Trump in the 22nd district to now Binghamton’s in a district that leans more Democratic. It’s not quite as Democratic as it was Republican. It’s about 52 or 53% of the votes cast in what is now the 19th District went to Joe Biden. So that’s a favorable district for Democratic candidates that are hoping to win election to Congress,” said Magleby.

Political parties are trying to keep up with all the changes while helping to promote their candidates. The candidates are also watching voter turnout closely.

“I know they’ve been working very hard with ads, calling, knocking on doors, sending fliers. So the word definitely has been out,” Barbara Fiala, Chair of the Broome County Democratic Committee, told the Washington News Bureau. “Early voting has been not as heavy as maybe we would like it the last time I checked. But I’m very optimistic that we will have a good turnout. Broome County has a history of good turnout. So, I’m optimistic. This summer with all of these changes, maybe a little hesitant, but we’re trying very hard to get the word out.”

Republican National Committee spokesperson Paris Dennard also expressed confidence in the Republican candidates. He did acknowledge the challenges a delayed primary can bring.

“There are a lot of states that have late primaries, and now New York has certainly joined the number. It makes it sort of difficult for us to coalesce behind one candidate and go sprinting towards the finish line. But, here’s a factor that people are forgetting. No matter when the primary happens, Democrats are still in control of Washington, D.C., wreaking havoc on New York voters,” he said.

With issues such as abortion rights, crime, and the economy hanging heavy this election, it is also unclear what might motivate voters as they choose who to represent them in the general election this fall. Magleby noted that historically whichever party does not have control of the White House tends to do worse in the midterm primaries.

“I think redistricting is actually something that most people don’t really pay a lot of attention to until it comes time to figure out who it is that they need to vote for and who their options are in an election,” said Magleby. “I think the jury is out at this point. I don’t know. It could as you say, it could be that because the Supreme Court overturned ‘Roe versus Wade,’ Democrats are really angry and are motivated to turn out and vote for candidates who will protect access to contraceptive care. It could be that because gas is still more than $4 and groceries are really expensive that Republicans see this as an opportunity to turn out and they’re angry and want to express their displeasure.”

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