People gather at a hearing to comment on two county legislative...

People gather at a hearing to comment on two county legislative district maps -- one drawn by Republicans and one from Democrats -- in Mineola Wednesday. Credit: John Roca

The Republican-controlled Nassau County Legislature was expected to take over the process of redrawing all 19 legislative districts after their bipartisan advisory commission failed to agree Monday night on one of two draft maps to submit for consideration. 

The 11-member panel — five Democrats, five Republicans and one nonvoting chairman — deadlocked Monday night.

Each map proposal was put to a vote, which broke along party lines.

Democrats voted "yes" on their map and "no" for the Republican map. Republicans voted "yes" for their map and "no" for the Democrats' map. 

At least six votes were needed to officially advance any map from the advisory panel to the county legislature, officials said.

"This is the last meeting of this commission — that doesn't mean we can't be called for other things — but this is the last we'll have," said commission chairman Frank X. Moroney after the vote. 

"I first want to thank all of the commissioners both Republican and Democrat for their devotion, for their ability to come up with ideas that are at least interesting — if not offensive to others — but they were at least interesting," Moroney said. "That's the way we do business. That's the business of mapmaking. Like it or not, it is subject to numbers and six votes were needed." 

Despite the deadlock, panel members said they expected to informally share their proposals, including expert and public testimony from meetings, with the legislature.

Republican lawmakers hold a 12-7 majority on the county legislature and will have the option to adopt one of the draft maps produced by the commission, or draw their own.

The redistricting commission's appointment runs for 10 months, or until March, although their work has been completed, members from both sides said.

New district boundaries must be adopted by March but Republicans on the county legislature have said they expect to have a new map in place by the end of January. 

The two proposals considered by the commission Monday night were drastically different, drafted by consultants hired by the respective political parties. 

Republicans on the commission proposed a map that would keep most voters in their current legislative districts, adjusted along the perimeters, to give each district the required population of about 73,500.

Democrats had wanted to adopt entirely new districts, arguing the current legislative map on which the GOP proposal was based would not meet new federal and state legal standards put into place since then. 

Throughout the redistricting process, Democrats have accused Republicans of "extreme partisan gerrymandering." 

David Mejias, a Democratic appointee on the commission, repeated his concerns about exposing the county to a redistricting lawsuit. 

"We will be most certainly inviting litigation," Mejias said before the vote. "We will cost the county millions if anything that looks like the Republican map is adopted." 

The current map was drawn in 2013 based on the 2010 census. 

The competing maps drawn by Republicans and Democrats on the redistricting commission were presented to the public on Nov. 10.

A public hearing with more than 50 speakers was held in the legislative building in Mineola on Nov. 16. 

A series of 10 public hearings were conducted throughout the county since Aug. 31.

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