Mon., June 13
Remapping Bay State Voters
Black and Latino groups waged a court battle against Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran in 2004. They argued that in 2001, Finneran and legislators carved up voting districts so that voters of color were consolidated in discrete, unrepresentative blocs, diluting their voting power and influence. A three-panel judge ruled that it was a clear effort to gerrymander (a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965) and an opaque process that illegally undercut the voice of key constituent groups.
Fast-forward to the 2012 election cycle. Massachusetts is losing a Congressional seat, sitting representatives are looking to bolster power and re-up on another term, and a complicated and contentious redistricting process is once again underway. This time, activists on both sides are calling constituents, holding meetings, roughing out new maps, and shedding daylight on a process that historically has been shrouded in secrecy.
We spoke with State Rep. Dan Winslow in January about the redistricting process. Today we continue the conversation with Alejandra Saint Guillen, Executive Director of Oiste, a Latino civic education organization; and Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition, and a member of the Mass Black Empowerment Coalition.