HOW DOES A PERSON get elected to Congress or some other high office? Money, yes, but what else? It’s complicated and not a topic widely discussed at church picnics or neighborhood cannabis lounges. But understanding the process helps explain why it’s such a messy process and likely to remain that way for the decade ahead.
Start with the requirement that states have to consider whether to redraw the lines of their voting districts every 10 years based on the U.S. Census. Check it out; it’s in the Constitution. The more that a state’s population increases or decreases compared to other states, the more (or fewer) representatives your state will send to Congress.
The next step is for a state to divide its population by the number of congressional representatives, with each district having roughly equal population. And here the process gets really complicated. Besides population, districts can be divided in many ways as long as they physically connect. Sometimes districts have been redrawn to remedy past discrimination. Other times districts are drawn to give one candidate or political party an overwhelming advantage. Enter, the legislature of the State of New York.
On Tuesday, June 28—less than three weeks away—this state will hold the first of two primary elections this year. That’s when members of political parties choose who will be on the ballot at the general election in November. So Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, is being challenged by two Democratic Party opponents: Congressman Tom Suozzi and N.Y. City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, each of whom collected petitions from registered Democratic Party voters to be considered as the party’s candidate for governor.
Another detail to keep in mind is that you can only vote in a primary race in New York State if you are registered to vote with that party. Some states allow open primaries, where you can pick your primary on primary day. But not here, Buddy. This is New York.
Republicans have four candidates in their primary for governor: Congressman Lee Zeldin is the party’s choice; Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County executive and previously a candidate for governor; Andrew Giuliani, the son of Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani; and businessman Harry Wilson.
And then there’s the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. In this state there isn’t an automatic two-person “team” at the top. And this year there are three candidates hoping to secure the job of waiting to move to the governor’s mansion if the current occupant is unwilling or unable to continue, a transition that’s happened three times in the recent past. This year there are three candidates for that post: Ana Maria Achila, Diana Reyna and Antonio Delgado. Remember Mr. Delgado? Until last week he served as the congressman from the 19th District and now he’s appointed lt. governor. He’s an astute politician. Does he see more opportunity in Albany than in Washington?
The post-census headcount was supposed improve the distribution of representation but New York’s highest court didn’t buy the redistricting plan approved by the heavily Democratic legislature.
John Faso, the former Congressman from District 19 said in a letter last week to the New York Post, “Democrats in Albany can only blame themselves for the new districts created after the courts ruled the original maps were gerrymandered.”
Ken Dow, the Democratic County Commissioner of Elections called the situation caused by the latest redistricting “A total mess.” The Board of Elections will have to clean up what it can from confusion it didn’t create.
Don’t try to sort out what’s happening on your own. What we know for sure is that there are two primaries ahead: June 28, and August 23, 2022. If you are enrolled in a political party you need to vote. Early voting will be available or you can request an absentee ballot. If you need help ask a member of your party or check with the county Board of Elections at 518-828-3115 or online at: