Officials say the new redistricting commission maps for Long Island...

Officials say the new redistricting commission maps for Long Island keep the old lines. Credit: New York State Independent Redistricting Commission

The long and tortuous road to a fair congressional map for New York passed a key milestone on Thursday. The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission finally voted to send a bipartisan redistricting agreement to the State Legislature for approval.

If only that could just be the end of it.

The struggle over maps has long since passed the point where it should have been resolved for the rest of the decade. In 2022, the commission’s failure to agree on a single set of maps became prelude to a monumental court fight that ended with a court-appointed expert imposing a district plan. Fair as the resulting map might have been, Democrats detested it because in the end it effectively cost them several crucial House seats and helped Republicans recoup a majority in Washington.

As touted by the Democratic and Republican co-chairs of the IRC, Long Island’s lines, as used in 2022, don’t change under the newly unveiled proposal. The Democrats who control the state government ought to let continuity prevail.

Ham-handed gerrymandering isn't needed to produce wins for either party. On Tuesday, veteran Democrat Tom Suozzi won the seat from which Republican George Santos was expelled. The precincts of the Third Congressional District were the same as those drawn in 2022 by the court master, the same seat Santos had won in a “red wave.”

Last year’s redistricting-minded manipulation of state Court of Appeals nominations by the dominant Democrats in Albany resulted in this unnecessary second mapping “do over.” It emerges from some of the most elaborate partisan and legalistic gymnastics we've seen in years.

Now the State Senate and Assembly are authorized to either vote to accept the lines or redraw them. But time is wasting for them to act. Petitions for congressional and state legislative elections, held in November on the same ballot as the presidential race, are due to begin circulating on Feb. 27.

The time for further gymnastics is up.

It would only repeat the state’s inept and chaotic recent history on this issue if the upcoming primaries have to be delayed as they were for the midterms in 2022, creating confusion. Lawmakers must have mercy on their voters this time by sticking to the agreed-upon calendar. As unlikely as it is to occur, the legislative chambers should seriously consider adopting the IRC’s proposed map without modification right away. The constitutional goal of independent redistricting is exactly that.

It can only add to a fiasco-riddled chapter if the Legislature reverted to old-fashioned gerrymandering after all the fuss of these past two years. It’s time to end what is supposed to be a once-per-decade process by respecting — and adopting — the compromise that the commission was specifically created to reach.

Correction: A previous version of this editorial misstated the process for approving a new congressional map.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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