Massachusetts
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Elevated

Congressional

Alert:
Elevated

Process

State Legislature

Massachusetts's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by the state Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Massachusetts’ state constitution (Amend. CI §§ 1, 2) requires that state legislative be contiguous and preserve political subdivisions. There are no state law requirements for drawing congressional districts.

Public Input

While Massachusetts law does not require public hearings, the legislative committee responsible for redistricting held 13 meetings between March and June 2011. The Legislature also launched an interactive website dedicated to redistricting. It is likely that there will be similar opportunities and resources for public input in 2021.

Additionally, Common Cause Massachusetts organized a “Redistricting Olympics” to challenge residents to draw their own district maps and invite more public engagement with the process. Winners received prize money, and their maps were submitted to the Joint Committee on Redistricting.

Issues

Pitfalls

Redistricting in Massachusetts is under single-party control by Democrats because of the party's legislative supermajorities (permitting override of a veto from the Commonwealth's Republican Governor), and the congressional delegation is 9 Democrats and no Republicans. However, the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group has used intensive computer simulations to find that Republicans are so evenly distributed around the state that drawing a Republican congressional district is impossible.

Potential Reform

In the 2020 session, the Massachusetts Legislature considered two similar proposals for an independent commission. S13, a proposed constitutional amendment, would create a seven-member commission to draw congressional, state legislative, and councilor districts under certain criteria and with required public hearings. The maps would then be voted on by the Legislature without chance for amendment. H679, a proposed bill, was essentially the same, but limited only to congressional lines. Both bills received no further action before the Legislature adjourned at the end of 2020.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • Obtain Massachusetts redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback. Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

MassVote

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

ACLU of Massachusetts

Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia