Massachusetts residents argue district boundaries process is unfair

District boundaries are rearranged every 10 years

BOSTON (WWLP) – District boundaries are currently drawn by Massachusetts legislators, but some residents told 22News the current process is unfair. They’re calling on state lawmakers to amend the state Constitution to establish an independent redistricting commission.

District boundaries are rearranged every 10 years following the U.S. Census. All districts must have about the same population and must not take away voting power of racial or ethnic minority groups. The state’s current districts were set back in 2011, after the 2010 U.S. Census, and will need to be reset in less than 4 years.

Election Laws Committee Chair, State Senator Anne Gobi, told 22News, “Massachusetts has done a very good job in past years in redistricting. I think that even if you look at the last redistricting process, even though it was done with legislators leading the effort on it, I believe that we may have been the only state not to be sued in the nation.”

Some residents argue that partisan legislators are unfit to set fair district boundaries with their own political interests at mind. Common Cause Executive Director Pam Wilmot said, “Having legislatures drawing redistricting lines is a little bit like elected officials choosing their voters instead of voters choosing their elected officials.”

Amendment supporters said having an independent commission will ensure the redistricting process is transparent and standards are followed. If passed, the commission will create a plan for representative and senatorial districts before April of 2019.

The Election Laws Committee is reviewing public testimony and has yet to approve the amendment.