New York Democrats Sued for 'Brazen' Effort To Split Jewish Vote

Map would dilute Brooklyn Jews' voting power and create 'a partisan advantage' for Dems

An Orthodox Jewish man in Crown Heights / Getty Images
February 8, 2022

A group of Republican voters in New York says Democrats illegally split up conservative Jewish voters in freshly drawn congressional maps as part of a scheme to help Democratic candidates in November.

Election laws require states to strive to place communities with cultural and social ties—known as "communities of interest"—in the same congressional districts. But 14 Republican voters say the New York map shifts Orthodox Jewish and Russian Jewish votes from the state's 11th district, held by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R.), to Democratic strongholds in the 8th, 9th and 10th districts. The result is a map that dilutes Brooklyn Jews' voting power and creates "a partisan advantage" for Democrats.

"The new map divides closely knit, concentrated Orthodox Jewish and Russian communities with strong social and cultural ties, resulting in conservative Republican-leaning voters spread or 'cracked' across multiple districts," the lawsuit reads.

Malliotakis's district includes Staten Island and portions of south Brooklyn. Though the updated map includes Staten Island, it replaces conservative Jewish communities with Brooklyn's more liberal enclaves.

"Anyone looking at the maps can see that they are changing the boundaries to tilt the scale and give their candidates an advantage," said Malliotakis, who narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Max Rose in 2020.

The suit targets Gov. Kathy Hochul (D.) and other state leaders for approving one of the most aggressively gerrymandered House district maps in the country. The move would raise Democrats' advantage over Republicans from 11 seats to 18. Political observers say the map, should it survive legal challenges, could single-handedly help Democrats maintain control of the House in the midterm elections.

"These redrawn Brooklyn districts are blatant gerrymanders, with bizarre, roving boundaries crossing multiple bodies of water and snaking between each other for no discernible reason besides partisan advantage," the Republicans say.

Malliotakis said Hochul and other Democratic leaders are ignoring the will of New Yorkers, who since 2014 have voted twice in favor of anti-gerrymandering referenda.

"Like a tin-horn dictatorship, the leadership of the legislature released the new maps late on Sunday last week, and by Thursday evening the legislation had been rammed through the Assembly and State Senate and then signed into law by Governor Hochul, without time for public review and testimony," Malliotakis told the Washington Free Beacon.

The New York gerrymander is part of Democrats' effort to manipulate voting ahead of midterms. Democrats have pushed proposed gerrymandered maps in Maryland and adopted a map in Illinois that received a grade of "F" from the Democrat-backed Princeton Gerrymandering Project because of the "significant" advantage it gives the party. Democrats have sued in Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas to block maps that help Republicans.

The New York map has also received negative reviews from election experts. FiveThirtyEight says the map is "egregiously biased" in favor of Democrats and could let the party retain control of the House. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), the chairman of House Democrats' campaign arm, defended the map in interviews last week, saying Democrats have to act aggressively to combat Republican gerrymandering in conservative states.