Senate approves new political maps amid objections

October 28 – BOSTON – The State Senate has approved new political maps for Massachusetts that will dramatically disrupt legislative constituencies in the region.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 36-3 to approve 40 newly reconfigured districts based on the 2020 census tally. The new maps include major changes in some districts aimed at ensuring greater representation of minorities in some areas.

The House of Representatives approved the maps of 160 legislative constituencies by a 158-1 vote last Thursday, with Representative Lenny Mirra, R-Georgetown, casting the only dissenting vote.

In the Senate, one of the most dramatic changes is taking place in the Merrimack Valley, where the plan creates a new, Hispanic-majority Senate district. The new seat of the Senate would encompass Lawrence, Methuen and part of downtown Haverhill.

The changes aim to address potential violations of voter rights by improving the representation of minorities in a region where voters are “polarized” around racial and ethnic lines.

But it will mean carving out two existing senatorial constituencies in the region – 1st Essex and 2nd Essex and Middlesex – to create a new “majority minority” district where more than 50% of the voting age population is Hispanic.

In addition to the new Lawrence-centric Senate District, the plan calls for the creation of another Merrimack Valley seat comprising parts of Essex and Middlesex 2nd District which Senator Barry Finegold, D-Andover, currently represents.

It would stretch from Wilmington to the New Hampshire border, encompassing Andover, Tewksbury, Merrimac, Amesbury, Wilmington and parts of North Andover and Haverhill, now part of a district represented by Senator Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen. DiZoglio is a candidate for the post of auditor next year.

In remarks ahead of the vote, DiZoglio said she opposed the plan, in part because it splits Haverhill in half to create the newly configured minority-majority district.

She pointed out that some legislative leaders have not seen any change in their districts.

“Many locals wonder why their communities have been severely carved out,” said DiZoglio, who voted against the new maps. “These communities need to make their voices heard before we can move forward with finalizing this legislation.”

Finegold, who also voted against the cards, lamented that he lost Lawrence and Dracut and said he was proud to have represented the communities for so many years. He ticked off a list of his accomplishments and noted Lawrence’s efforts to reshape his image, battered by unemployment, high crime rates and violence.

“With the redistribution, you will have change,” Finegold said. “But I will continue to wholeheartedly defend these communities that I currently represent.”

The Second Senate District of Essex, which is currently represented by Senator Joan Lovely, D-Salem, would get rid of Topsfield, who would move to the First Senate District of Essex and Middlesex.

Meanwhile, the 1st District of Essex and Middlesex, which is currently represented by Sen.

Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, would lose Wilmington but win Topsfield, Salisbury and Newburyport.

Overall, the Senate redistribution plan doubles the number of majority-minority constituencies from three to six, which aims to give minority candidates more chances of winning elections.

The legislature has set a tentative deadline of November 8 to approve the new cards, which aims to give House candidates time to decide whether they will need to relocate based on the country’s one-year residency requirement. State.

Under state law, candidates for House districts must live in the communities they wish to represent for at least one year prior to elections.

Voting rights groups have also complained that the changes do not go far enough to ensure minority representation in some communities.

The US Constitution requires states to redesign congressional constituencies every ten years to accommodate population changes. The numbers also guide the design of state legislative districts and local electoral districts.

Massachusetts’ population grew from around 6.5 million in 2010 to just over 7 million last year, making it the 15th most populous state in the country, according to census data.

Maps of state congressional districts and governor council seats will be released at a later date.

While congressional district boundaries may also change, Massachusetts will not see a net change in its representation in Congress. Its nine-member delegation to the House of Representatives will maintain this size for another 10 years.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for newspapers and the websites of the North of Boston Media Group. Email him at [email protected]

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