Generally known as the birthplace of the term “gerrymandering,” Massachusetts is certainly no stranger to accusations of unequal divisions of the state’s electoral power. From Governor Elbridge Gerry’s 1812 attempts to weaken the Federalist Party to House Speaker Tom Finneran’s 2001 alleged legislative efforts to diminish minority vote strength, historical reasons abound as to why vigilant Bay State minority citizens would be extremely wary of the state’s upcoming Congressional redistricting. In order to quell these inevitable fears of vote dilution and limit “beast sightings” (see right) in the 2012 election cycle, however, Massachusetts lawmakers have armed themselves with an invisible weapon – transparency.
Although its population grew a modest 3.1 percent from 2001 to 2010, Massachusetts still lost one of its ten congressional districts once the U.S. Census Bureau finalized its statistics last December. As a result, Massachusetts voters in 2012 will elect the fewest number of their representatives to the U.S. Congress (nine) since the late eighteenth century. However, before a single representative from Massachusetts even enters the 113th Congress, the state’s Legislative Redistricting Committee must create new congressional district lines that adhere to legal doctrinal principles and (hopefully) community desires. [Read more…] about Terminating “gerrymander” ghouls with transparency: Massachusetts’ 2012 redistricting approach