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Here's what redistricting means for Western New York

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 18:06:15-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Changes are coming to New York's congressional districts, as Governor Kathy Hochul signed the state's new district map into law Thursday.

"Every ten years the districts have to be redrawn in order that the population balances out with the new census numbers,” Assistant political science professor at UB, Shawn Donahue, said.

Donahue said redistricting is an important part of equal representation.

"Since the 1960s the Supreme Court has said it violates the constitution if districts are not roughly of equal size,” Donahue said.

New York State is going from 27 districts to 26. The 27th district, in Western New York, will be the one that is eliminated.

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It includes Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston Counties, as well as parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Ontario Counties. But next year the 27th district will be absorbed by parts of the 23, 24 and 25 districts.

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"There's a number of voters in Western New York that are going to have a new congressman next year,” Donahue said.

Donahue said one party may try to get lines overturned if they believe the other party, is political gerrymandering.

"That's when one party is trying to draw the seats more to their advantage,” Donahue said.

He said a common concern about redistricting is who really gets a voice.

"Is it more that the politicians are picking their voters,” Donahue said. “Or the voters are picking their elected officials."

But Donahue said redistricting lines do not typically change once signed into law.

"Courts in New York have not previously been looking on overturning them on partisan grounds,” Donahue said.

The first sign of the new lines will be in June 2022 when New Yorkers will vote for a new congressional member during the primaries ahead of the general election in November 2022.

District lines will remain the same until the end of this year when new or re-elected officials take office, that's when they will officially change for the next ten years.