Redistricting is the process of redrawing electoral district boundaries. It is meant to ensure that every person has fair representation at the local, state, and federal levels. Census data collected every ten years are used to draw new districts, each with about the same number of people.
The ACLU of Massachusetts is a member of the Drawing Democracy Coalition, a group of organizations, civil rights lawyers, public policy advocates, data and mapping experts, and political scientists. This group collaborates to ensure that underrepresented communities have the opportunity to elect candidates who best reflect their needs and interests.
Importance of Redistricting
How district lines are drawn influences who runs for public office and who is elected. Elected representatives make decisions that are important to our lives, from ensuring safety in schools to adopting immigration policies. Once drawn, these district boundaries are in place for the next ten years, and their policy impacts can last well beyond that.
Although redistricting is based on the idea of “one person, one vote,” it hasn’t always happened this way in Massachusetts. In 2001, then Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran diluted the power of Black voters in Boston, lied about his role, and went to prison for perjury. Because of the 2001 discriminatory redistricting process, in 2011, community organizers and leaders worked hand-in-hand with state lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Redistricting to develop a transparent and fair redistricting process.
This collaboration led to the doubling of districts that contain a majority of a racial or linguistic minority population in the state legislature and the creation of the first majority BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) Congressional District, which Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley now represents.
- Drawing Democracy Coalition’s Toolkit
- Redistricting 101
- What the District?
- Drawing Democracy Coalition Resources