state lawmakers told to rely on city maps for census-based redistricting

WORCESTER — City Clerk Nikolin Vangjeli assures City Council this week that the redrafting of the city’s electoral map is underway, despite the possibility of confusion caused by a parallel process taking place at state level.

Every 10 years, after new US Census information is released, the city must take a look at its ward and precinct maps to ensure a balance of population in each city, plus or minus 5%.

This year, the census numbers came in over the summer, which is much later than usual. Typically, municipalities begin reviewing the information before the end of March and submit their adjusted maps to the state’s Local Electoral District Review Commission (LEDRC).

After municipalities approve the maps, the legislature then draws maps for elected state offices.

But this year, the delay in releasing information has put state lawmakers on a tighter deadline than municipalities. The state constitution requires state officials to live in a district at least one year before their election, which means that if state maps are approved after Nov. 8, some sitting lawmakers could find themselves no longer living in the district they represent before the 2022 state elections.

The city’s November municipal election will not be affected by the changes – voters, elected officials and potential challengers would have two years to get used to the new maps before the 2023 municipal elections.

This prompted the legislature to introduce a bill, which was recently signed by Governor Charlie Bakerwhich reverses the process and allows the state to draw its own lines before cities and towns complete their maps.

At the same time, Secretary of State William Galvin, Vangjeli noted, encouraged cities and towns to submit their proposed re-district maps to the LEDRC for approval as soon as possible.

What all of this meant for Worcester was that the Board of Election Commissioners followed the local renewal process while state lawmakers worked on their own district maps, which they said they expected to finalize. next week.

At some point the two will have to be reconciled, and Vangjeli told the council in a communication this week that he had “strongly conveyed” the message to state lawmakers and the LEDRC that they should use the maps of the city ​​- which have not yet been submitted to the LEDRC – as a basic element of their redistricting process.

Vangjeli explained that if the city and the state settled on two different maps, it could create many divided constituencies, more types of ballot papers and could force voters to vote in different constituencies for national and local elections. . He said that is why it is important that the Board of Election Commissioners work quickly to approve the 10 additional precincts proposed to accommodate the city’s explosive growth since the 2010 census and submit them to the LEDRC for review. He said dozens of cities and towns have already had new maps approved by the LEDRC.

Volunteers and city workers count ballots last November inside Worcester City Hall.

Whether the state or city approves its maps first, there will be an opportunity to align state and local maps, Vangjeli told the council.

“If the legislative districts are different, but not dramatically, the city will have an opportunity to reconsider the precinct lines and make adjustments, which will also need to be re-approved by the LEDRC,” Vangeli said. “However, there is no guarantee that the legislative constituencies proposed by the State correspond to the local constituencies, hence the reason for my recommendation that the State Legislature use the constituencies proposed by Worcester 2020 as building blocks.”

By design, repeating precincts is meant to disrupt voters as little as possible. In Worcester, the proposed map the Board of Electoral Commissioners has been working with adds 10 wards across the city, bringing the total to 60. Most of the proposed changes are small – a few streets swapped between adjacent wards here and there. But some of larger changes will have a significant impact on City Council districts.

For example, District 1, under the proposed recirculation map, cedes much of the Indian Lake neighborhood to District 2, but takes over part of the Burncoat Middle and High School neighborhood. And District 4 cedes much of the Elm Park neighborhood to District 5, while taking over the Beaver Brook Park area.

Mayor: New growth towards DCE report metrics

While not a city manager’s agenda, Tuesday’s city council meeting is particularly light on council orders, at least compared to recent meetings. There are only two on the roster – one from Mayor Joseph M. Petty and one from General Counsel Khrystian King.

Petty asks City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. to dedicate accounting for new growth funds from additional construction in the city in the “over budget amount” to the Fire Department’s Community Risk Assessment Master Plan , who demand major changes to the department’s command structure, training system and operations, and calls for increased staffing in several areas.

It is unclear how this order will conflict with any order other than the council approved last year requesting that new growth funds in excess of budgeted amounts be directed to a fund to prepare for high school construction projects, a new South Division fire hall, and the implementation of a new financial management system.

King requests a report regarding the timing of the hiring process for the newly added social worker/clinician position at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Return to normal start time

After a few initial meetings, council will resume its normal start time of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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