Following Maine Apportionment Commission’s successful agreement, Legislature decides the district’s make-up, instead of leaving it to courts
On Wed., September 29, the Maine Legislature voted to approve new County Commission districts, two new congressional districts, 35 state Senate and 151 state House of Representative districts. The required two-thirds’ approval of the legislature comes after the recommendations of the Maine Apportionment Commission, which has been at work during the past 45 days redrawing the new statewide maps.
When new census data is available, redistricting is required every 10 years under the Maine Constitution. The 15-member commission is a bipartisan commission with party operatives and legislative leadership heavily involved with the redistricting process. Their successful agreement on the make-up of districts handed the final decision to the Legislature instead of the courts.
One of the major tasks is drawing the maps for Maine’s two congressional districts. The census revealed that Maine’s population grew by 34,000 since 2010. This meant that the commission needed to figure out a way to evenly split Maine’s population among the two congressional districts. A majority of the two districts will stay the same. The first district will have five counties, and the second district will have 10. Kennebec County will be divided between the two districts.
Perhaps the biggest news to come from the redistricting effort – the city of Augusta, which has traditionally been in the first congressional district, will move to the second congressional district. Here is a breakdown of where Kennebec County’s towns will fall by congressional district:
For the Maine House of Representatives, there was very little drama that resulted in the re-drawing of 151 House seats. The commission worked quickly on a bipartisan compromise. There was some debate on districts in Hancock County, but the commission worked successfully to resolve those concerns.
The last hurdle for the commission to clear was the re-drawing of the 35 state Senate districts. It was the last item on which the commission was able to reach agreement, and it took the final hours of the commission’s work to come to a mutually agreeable solution. If the commission had not reached an agreement, the legislature would not have been able to get a two-thirds’ vote on the Senate maps, which would have kicked it to the Maine Supreme Court to instead draw the maps.
Thankfully, the commission was able to work together and reached an agreement. The two areas that were impacted the most were Penobscot County and York County. The final maps highlighted the fact that more people have relocated to the Southern Maine as compared to Northern Maine. Those districts grew in geographic size to make sure each district had the proper number of constituents. If in the future more people continue to leave Northern Maine, the state Senate districts will continue to get larger in the amount of territory they cover, while Southern Maine districts will end up more condensed.
The new redistricting maps can be found online at http://legislature.maine.gov/apportionment-commission/final-maps.