Maps would draw new lines for state House, Senate seats | News

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BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers who must draw new district lines for all 200 state House and Senate seats unveiled new proposed maps Tuesday that they said would help strengthen the political clout of Black, Hispanic and minority voters.

In the new House map, the number of districts with a majority of minority residents would increase from 20 to 33, according to Democratic state Rep. Mike Moran, who co-chairs the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting with Democratic Sen. Will Brownsberger.

Those proposed majority-minority House districts include eight with a majority of Hispanic residents and two with a majority of Black residents. The other districts have a minority of non-Hispanic white residents, Moran said.

The proposed districts incorporate new census data that showed the state has grown older, less white and more populated during the past decade.

“What you are going to see in these maps is a reflection of those numbers,” Moran said.

The majority-minority districts are spread throughout the state, including in Springfield, Worcester, New Bedford, Randolph, Framingham, Lowell, Everett, Brockton, Revere, Boston, Lynn, Lawrence and Methuen.

A number of those districts will not have an incumbent up for reelection next year, increasing the opportunity for voters of color to elect a representative of their choice, Moran said.

In general, the population in the eastern portion of the state has increased, while the population in western Massachusetts has stalled or dropped, increasing the geographic size of districts in the western part of the state.

The districts all have to be roughly equal in population.

The Senate has also worked to create districts that will increase the opportunity for people of color to elect senators of their choice, including in Springfield, Boston and Lawrence, Brownsberger said.

The committee will hold a virtual public hearing on the maps Friday.

“These are draft maps,” Brownsberger said. “We are hear to listen.”

The maps received mixed reviews from the Drawing Democracy Coalition, an umbrella group of advocacy organizations.

The group praised the House map, saying it increased representation for people of color, immigrants and low-income communities.

“However, we have serious concerns with several of the proposed Senate districts. These concerns stem from the Senate’s sole reliance on using citizen voting age population data from the census to guide the district drawing,” said Beth Huang, of the Drawing Democracy Coalition.

That ends up diluting the power of voters of color by failing to take into consideration younger people of color who haven’t reached voting age, she said.

Massachusetts is gradually becoming more diverse in its population.

Those identifying as white alone in Massachusetts — not Hispanic or Latino — declined from 76.1% in 2010 to 67.6% in 2020.

During the same decade, the percentage of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino grew from 9.6% in 2010 to 12.6% in 2020. The Black and African American population (non-Hispanic) increased slightly from 6% in 2010 to 6.5% in 2020. The Asian population also ticked up from 5.3% to 7.2%.

Those identifying as two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) more than doubled from 1.9% in 2010 to 4.7% in 2020.

The total population for Massachusetts increased from more than 6.5 million in 2010 to just over 7 million, making it the 15th most populous state and ensuring it retains all nine of its existing seats in the U.S. House.

Lawmakers are still in the process of drawing up new proposed district lines for the nine U.S. House seats.

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