Dozens of Mass. communities moving forward with reprecincting
BOSTON (State House News Service) – A new law calls on cities and towns to redraw precinct lines after the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker complete the decennial redistricting process, but dozens of municipalities are not waiting.
The Local Election Districts Review Commission last week approved precinct maps for 39 cities and towns and the panel is set to meet Wednesday to consider maps submitted by another 48 communities. The office of Secretary of State William Galvin, who has knocked the effort to push off reprecincting until after the redistricting effort plays out, says that under the law Baker signed on Sunday, cities and towns may set ward and precinct lines and submit them for approval to the commission while retaining the option to reconsider and amend precinct lines after legislative district boundaries are redrawn. Galvin is one of three commission members.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones is the governor’s appointee to the commission and Massachusetts Voter Table Director Beth Huang is the attorney general’s appointee. The Legislature’s Redistricting Committee is expected in the coming days to offer a draft plan to redraw legislative boundaries and then open that proposal up for public comment.
While the delivery of 2020 Census data was delayed this year, legislators are still on roughly the same pace with their redistricting effort as they were in 2011, the last time they had to draw up reconfigured districts. The new law reverses the order in which the Legislature drafts new district maps and municipalities draw their new precinct maps.
Cities and towns typically go first and create their local voting wards and precincts before lawmakers enact legislation creating new Congressional and legislative maps. The new law largely reflects what’s already occurring – the Legislature is going first and municipalities will then have 30 days to complete the local process no later than Dec. 15. The process that is slowly unfolding could create problems for House candidates who need to establish residency for one year in their districts to qualify for the Nov. 8, 2022 elections.
Wednesday’s 10 a.m. meeting will be held in the Mezzanine Bid Conference Room on the second floor of the McCormack Building at One Ashburton Place in Boston.