Episcopal City Mission Blog

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Drawing Democracy Project Release New State Senate and Represenative Maps

Last year Episcopal City Mission gave a grant to support that The Drawing Democracy Project, a state-wide multiracial coalition dedicated to promoting a transparent and accountable redistricting process. After 6 months of hard work by thirteen grantees DDP has released its state senate and state representative maps along with the supporting data sets. The maps show 19 state senate districts that reflect the interests of historically marginalized communities with 5 total majority-minority districts, based on total population. The maps also show 50 newly created state representative districts.

“We believe the state legislature should be as diverse as our state. The fair and easy way to increase the number of legislators of color is to create more districts with a majority of constituents being people of color,” said Malia Lazu, Project Director of the Drawing Democracy Project.

“Through an extensive data analysis and in partnership with the UMass Boston Institute for Asian American Studies, Drawing Democracy created 50 state representative districts that reflect the interests of historically marginalized communities,” Lazu added. “Minorities in the Commonwealth now make up 20 percent of its diversity. There are currently 10 minority-majority state representative seats and 2 minority-majority state senate seats, making up only 5 percent of the elected officials in the State House.”

The Drawing Democracy Project’s maps also include 18 majority-minority districts, based on total population numbers. They also created 19 state senate districts with 5 total majority-minority districts. The organizations worked together to draw lines and maps through an inclusive, community-led, grassroots, non-partisan and non-incumbent process.

“We echo what other organizations from across Massachusetts said to the Joint Committee on Redistricting today,” said Malia Lazu. “We urge lawmakers to draw maps that keep communities whole and give fair and equal voice to African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. We applaud the collaborative effort we have fostered and witnessed across the Commonwealth and we look forward to continuing this dialogue with legislators and community organizations in the forthcoming weeks.”

“We have attended many of the public hearings held by the House and Senate Chairs of the Committee on Redistricting and have been pleased with the legislature’s transparent and accountable process,” said Malia Lazu. “We ask legislative leaders for an advance copy of the final redistricting maps, so that we have time to analyze them and offer feedback. As some may recall, the lack of time ten years ago caused serious problems in the community’s ability to respond to proposals.”

This year, Massachusetts is in a unique position with the loss of a congressional seat due to changes in our population. The redistricting process and how it is carried out not only determines a community’s next elected official, but will also shape decisions at the state and neighborhood level for a decade.

About Drawing Democracy Project

The Drawing Democracy Project is a coalition dedicated to promoting a transparent and accountable redistricting process and to empowering communities by creating fair voting districts. The project provides financial and technical support to community-based organizations involved in organizing around redistricting.

Grants were awarded to groups representing people who have historically been underrepresented in the redistricting process, such as low-income individuals, people of color and immigrants. Project grantees located throughout the Commonwealth have been attending public hearings, conducting trainings and meeting with Technical Assistance providers to better understand census and redistricting data. For a list of organizations funded by the project, please visit http://www.accessstrategies.org/programs/drawing-democracy-project.

The project is generously funded by Access Strategies Fund, Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Burgess Urban Fund of the Episcopal City Mission, Haymarket People’s Fund, Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation, The Hyams Foundation, New England Blacks in Philanthropy, Roxbury Trust Fund, and Solidago Foundation.

Save the Date: Annual Meeting June 7, 2011

Keynote speaker The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop the Episcopal Church

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