The New York state Senate meets in the Senate Chamber...

The New York state Senate meets in the Senate Chamber on the opening day of the legislative session at the state Capitol in Albany, on Jan. 8, 2020. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

A state judge on Thursday allowed a redistricting lawsuit to proceed but said he would not suspend or delay New York’s election process because it is too late in the calendar to throw out the state's new maps for Congress and State Senate.

It’s a significant victory for Democrats, allowing the 2022 elections to proceed with maps recently approved by a Democratic-dominated State Legislature. The maps, which must be redrawn every 10 years to comply with the latest U.S. Census, boost the party's chances to pick up seats around the state, especially in Congress.

State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McAllister of Steuben County made the ruling after a hearing Thursday in a Republican-backed lawsuit seeking to strike down the new districts as unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Democrats.

McAllister said a full ruling on whether to nullify the maps will come after expert testimony and discovery. He noted Republican litigants face a high bar to prove the new districts and the process to create them violated the state constitution.

Even if the GOP eventually wins the lawsuit, McAllister said it would be better to allow elections this year to proceed and to order new lines in 2023. That’s because with the state primary just three months away, McAlister said it was "highly unlikely" new maps could be put in place in time.

"I do not intend at this time to suspend the election process," McAllister said. If he did so at this point, "it is more than likely, than not, that striking these maps would leave New York state without any duly elected congressional delegates."

He added: "I believe the more prudent course would be to allow the current election process to proceed and then, if necessary, allow an election process next year if new maps need to be drawn."

The judge rejected a motion, brought by Democrats, to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.

McAllister indicated he'd like to issue a decision on the case by April 4. But that won't be the final word — the losing side can appeal to the state's midlevel court and then top court, meaning the lawsuit probably won't reach a final determination for months.

A Republican source told Newsday the plaintiffs won’t seek to appeal McAllister’s decision Thursday to keep the June primary in place. They said they will "await an ultimate decision on constitutionality" before seeking a change in the political calendar.

Republican plaintiffs claim the legislature failed to follow the state's constitutional process for redistricting. They also claim the new district boundaries marginalize Republican voters.

They point to independent analyses showing Democratic voters would have a majority in 22 of 26 congressional districts. Currently, Republicans hold eight of New York's 27 seats (the state is losing a seat because it didn't grow as fast as other states).

They also claim State Senate districts are gerrrymandered but not so in the Assembly.

Democrats say the maps adhere to all voting rights protections and reflect shrinking population in upstate counties.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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