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The Empire

Judge orders LATFOR to hand over data used to draw maps, sans incumbent info

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the legal process federal magistrate Roanne Mann set up to get as much info as possible before she drafts congressional lines for New York.

In the midst of a massive upload of map plans from the state Assembly and Senate, as well as Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and community organizations who have drawn their own maps, the issue of taking incumbency into account in the drawing of lines was raised.

At the February 27 hearing that saw Mann charged with coming up with the schedule for drawing maps, the lawyers for the senate and assembly had asked the judge find a way to have incumbency be part of the conversation. In a follow up letter to the judge, Senate Republicans’ lawyer Michael Carvin laid out the case for “why incumbency protection is an appropriate factor for the Court to consider in drawing redistricting maps.”

“Preserving the cores of existing districts—sometimes also referred to as incumbency protection—is a well-established, traditional districting principle in New York,” Carvin writes. He goes on to cite numerous cases to show that “this Court has recognized[] preserving the cores of existing districts is ‘an important and legitimate factor’ in Congressional redistricting due to ‘the powerful role that seniority plays in the functioning of Congress.’”

It’s not a flat-out refusal to take incumbents into account when drawing new lines, but an order issued by Judge Mann today appears to signal an interest in at least seeing how things look when incumbents aren’t part of the equation. (The entire chronological history of the case can be seen online here.)

The order, issued this morning, tells LATFOR to send over the data they plug into their computer software to draw maps. But there’s a note attached: “No political or other data, including incumbent residence, shall be included with the data provided.”