The congressional and state maps are drawn by the legislature and are subject to the governor’s veto. The legislature is also charged with reviewing and approving local district lines. The state abides by equal population requirements and the state legislative maps must be drawn in a contiguous manner and must prioritize keeping counties, towns, and cities intact.
Community of Interest Story
Drawing Democracy Coalition (DDC) successfully created roughly 100 COI maps and consulted in drawing a statewide unity map that all partners, except for one organization, agreed upon. The DDC released their version of House maps, prior to the official commission release, which increased majority-minority districts from 20 to 29 and included five Latinx-majority districts. Due to the timing of the coalition’s map release, the House adopted a majority of their district lines in the final map, a clear indication that House members had seen and incorporated the DDC House maps. Additionally, the DDC was successful in their advocacy for the creation of a new senate district.
Overall State Grade: A-
Strong coalition: The Drawing Democracy Coalition, anchored by the Massachusetts Voter Table, was created during the 2020 census and successfully transitioned to redistricting advocacy and education. The coalition was composed of the MIRA coalition, Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and ACLU-MA and worked on education, community of interest mapping, and advocacy during the map drawing process. In-state advocates agreed that the strong coalition helped to achieve success in the final maps.
Increased representation: The districting process increased majority-minority districts in the house from 20 to 33 and doubled the number of majority-minority districts in the senate. Unfortunately, this was not possible to do with the congressional map. However, this is encouraging as the percentage of minority voters has increased upwards of 40% in some communities.
Great public accessibility in legislative hearings: There were many hearings offered at a variety of times, locations and with language support. Chairs held public hearings once a month for six months, and the legislature was open to the unity map submitted and incorporated some of the suggestions. Further, all data was easily accessible.
- National resources make an impact: The DDC found national redistricting materials, including the Redistricting 101 materials created by State Voices and Common Cause and the CHARGE Redistricting College webinars, to be valuable assets as they created resources for their in-state organizers. In turn, several states have pointed to Massachusetts as an example of great materials and campaign resources.
- Community of interest map submission methods should be improved: The DDC shared one example of an organization inaccurately explaining the Unity Map at a hearing and ended up advocating for a district that was not a DDC priority. For future districting, organizations and individuals may require more education on any Unity Maps and advocacy talking points to support them during hearings.
- Mapping and data discrepancies need to be fixed: The coalition noted that some racial data discrepancies appeared between Dave’s Redistricting App and the state mapping software. The demographic percentages for Black populations that existed in Maptitude were not the same as in Dave’s, which left a small discrepancy between the DDC maps and those created by the state. Standardizing the census categories used across all redistricting mapping tools would eliminate data discrepancies.
- Use census block data first: The opportunity for the legislature to draw districts using census block data before municipal reprecinting contributed to a higher number of majority minority districts. We recommend the Commonwealth adopt this change permanently for future redistricting cycles.”