In the Fall of 2021, Drawing Democracy released Unity Maps for Congress, the Massachusetts State House and State Senate. We also launched a new tool in partnership with the Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York called Redistricting & You. The tool allows users to toggle between current Congressional, State House and State Senate districts and the new districts proposed by Drawing Democracy. It also makes it easy to search by street address or other locations and access a wealth of information about local population and voting patterns. Redistricting & You is free and available to everyone at this link.
The Unity Maps aligned with Drawing Democracy's goals to keep communities of interest whole and increase political power for BIPOC, immigrant and low-income communities. They were built based on around 100 community of interest maps and extensive conversations with community partners and legislative leaders from across Massachusetts.
State House Unity Map
The proposed House Unity Map increased the number of majority-minority districts based on total population from 20 to 29, including five districts that were majority-Latinx and six that were majority-Black. 27 of these districts were majority-minority according to Voting Age Population (VAP) and 16 were majority-minority according to Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP). For a more detailed breakdown of the proposed changes, click here.
State Senate Unity Map
The proposed Senate Unity Map increased the number of majority-minority districts based on total population from three to seven, including a majority Black Senate District in Boston and a majority Latinx Senate District anchored in Lawrence. Seven of these districts were majority-minority according to VAP, and two were majority-minority according to CVAP. For a more detailed breakdown of the proposed changes, click here.
Congressional Unity Map
The proposed Congressional map preserved the majority-minority status of the Seventh Congressional District, which was drawn during the 2011 redistricting process, and united the immigrant communities of Fall River and New Bedford into the Ninth Congressional District.
Redistricting Committee's Maps:
The Redistricting Committee Co-Chairs, Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Mike Moran, released their proposed State Senate and State House maps on October 12th. The proposed House map adopted many of Drawing Democracy's proposals and created 33 majority-BIPOC districts. On the Senate side, Drawing Democracy was pleased to see stronger BIPOC representation in Worcester and Springfield. Unfortunately, beyond that, the proposed Senate map was disappointing, primarily due to its heavy reliance on Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP). An overreliance on CVAP can dilute the power of the BIPOC voters because it does not take into consideration younger people of color and others who are not eligible to vote due to archaic and discriminatory voting laws.
As such, the first proposed Senate map overconcentrated BIPOC communities in a majority-Black Senate district that was nearly 80% BIPOC but missed a vital opportunity to draw a strong coalition district in Boston. It also failed to unite Brockton with the similar communities of Randolph and Stoughton. Furthermore, while the legislature followed Drawing Democracy's recommendation to combine Lawrence with the more similar community of Methuen, rather than Andover, we had serious concerns that the proposed configuration dilutes the voting power of Latinx residents in Haverhill.
On October 17, Drawing Democracy sent a letter to Redistricting Committee Co-Chair Senator William Brownsberger outlining a legal rationale for the State Senate to join Brockton, Randolph, Stoughton and Avon into one district. You can read the letter here and then support Drawing Democracy's recommendations for the State Senate and State House.
In response to our advocacy, the legislature revised their maps. On the Senate side, they created a sixth majority-minority Senate district for Brockton and made some changes to Haverhill while preserving Lawrence's majority-Latinx status. On the House side, they strengthened the majority-minority status of the 11th Bristol District in New Bedford. All in all, the new maps create six majority-minority Senate Districts and 33 majority-minority House districts. The Senate and House approved their maps and they were signed into law by the Governor.
On November 1st, the Redistricting Committee Co-Chairs released their draft maps for Congress and Governor's Council. While the Congressional map adopted our recommendation to make Fall River whole, it failed to unite Fall River and New Bedford in the same district. As such, voters in Fall River might continue to see their voting power weakened by wealthier suburbs of Boston, like Brookline, Newton and Wellesley. Despite strong advocacy from Drawing Democracy and many local leaders, the Redistricting Committee did not change their proposal. The final Congressional map was approved by the legislature on November 17th with many legislators, including local legislators, voting no due to the Fall River and New Bedford split. The map is now with the Governor for final approval.