AUGUSTA – On Thursday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, released the Senate Democrats’ compromise proposal for redrawing the state senate districts to reflect the latest data from the US Census. A pdf version of the proposal is available here and the list of towns in each proposal is available here.
The Legislature’s Apportionment Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on both the Democrats and Republicans proposed senate maps at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 20. The meeting will be held remotely and streamed live here.
“Redrawing the senate map is always challenging but I’m proud of what the Senate Democrats have put together. It’s a fair, commonsense proposal that accurately reflects changes in Maine’s population while fulfilling the core principles laid out in statute and takes into account past rulings from the court,” said President Jackson. “I look forward to the public hearing on Monday to get feedback from the public. In the meantime, I want to be clear – we will continue negotiating with our Republican colleagues in good faith.”
From the outset, the redistricting committee indicated support for the following objectives outlined in statute: keep districts compact, ensure the largest number of Maine voters possible have the same representation in the state senate, keep municipalities together as much as possible, keep counties as whole as possible, and recognize communities of interest. Under the Senate Democrats’ proposal:
- 63 percent of Mainers would have the same state senator should their senator be re-elected
- Fewer municipalities would be split – the proposed map only splits three municipalities while the current senate map splits four
- No incumbent would be forced to run against another sitting incumbent
- Communities of interest that have been separated in the past would be put back together (e.g Kennebunk and Kennebunkport)
- Communities with shared interests be kept together (e.g. Orono and Old Town)
- Only 8 percent of Mainers would have new representation based only on new district lines on the Democrats’ proposed map
Senate Democrats sought to ensure that the updated senate map reflects changes in population to ensure fair representation in government, while also looking to limit disruptions to Maine voters. In 19 districts, none of the voters would have new representation due to redrawn lines. In comparison, 15 districts have to change based on population changes
The proposed map also prioritizes “cross[ing] political subdivisions the least number of times necessary.”
Senate Democrats have proposed reducing the number of municipalities divided by senate districts from four to three, keeping the town of Berwick together. There is a precedent for splitting Scarborough, Portland and Westbrook due to population density. The proposed splits recognize communities of interest and natural geographical divisions. For example, Westbrook is split along the Presumpscot River and Portland is split recognizing the different neighborhoods on and off the peninsula.
Senate Democrats have also tried to keep counties as whole as possible barring population changes. Due to a decrease in population in the northern counties, the northern Maine senate districts had to be adjusted and extend into the central and western parts of the state. Under the Senate Democrats’ proposal, 10 out of Maine’s 16 counties have the same number of cuts or fewer than the existing senate map.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the release of the 2020 Census, making it impossible for the Maine Legislature to meet the apportionment deadlines as originally outlined in the Maine Constitution. Legislative leaders from both the majority and minority caucuses in each chamber successfully petitioned the Maine Supreme Court to extend the deadlines outlined in the Maine Constitution and authorize the Commission to exercise all of its constitutional and other legal powers after June 1, 2021.
The bipartisan Apportionment Commission is made up of 15 members. The composition of the Commission is outlined in Article 4, Part Third, Section 1-A of the Maine Constitution. The membership list is available here.