Senate Redistricting

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen in the Nashua Telegraph

“While redistricting is supposed to be an open and public proposal, this plan was designed in backrooms with clear partisan motivation to promote a future of Republican domination in the Statehouse.

Bill Text (with the details) Update: this must be old version as text is not accurate to the Maps…

Anyone have a map? Thanks JBB
Map (2.7MB .pdf)
Populations (74K .pdf)
Deviations (41K .pdf)

  • JonnyBBad
  • Rep. Jim Splaine

    When I was in the State Senate in 1981, I was very much involved in the redistricting process.  And we did that quite in the open, although the Republicans ruled both chambers.  

    But then, I guess that was in the old days when there was some ethics and courtesy, as least comparatively-speaking to today’s State House mess.  

  • Ray Buckley

    The lack of involvement by the public and Democrats in creating the House and Senate plans further underscores the historic low the current Republican majority has sunk. Truly outrageous.

    • Douglas E. Lindner

      Didn’t the state supreme court have to intervene last time?

      • elwood

        I vaguely recall a veto.

        The Court intervened, but I don’t know whether it was to overturn a plan in law, or to create a plan when the legislative process stalemated.

        • Paul Twomey

          Governor Shaheen did veto because the GOP passed plan was unconstitutional.

          The Court then pointed out the ways that the plan was unconstitutional (huge deviations and it failed in some cities to use the current census data) and asked the legislature to create a new plan.

          The legislature refused. And given the mandate to redistrict and the legislatures refusal to do so in a constitutional manner, the court then very reluctantly took on the task. And ever since the GOP has complained about ‘court interference’.

          (this wasnt actually the last time, as the GOP redistricted again in 2004 after Benson’s election, but that is another story).

          • Douglas E. Lindner
  • JonnyBBad
  • FrankLloydMike

    Is there a map of this proposal anywhere? Or any other solid information? I’m disappointed, but not surprised to hear that the senate districts (at least as proposed) will be based on politics rather than demographics, local interests and so forth. I’d still like to see some more urban-centric districts in Manchester and Nashua, to match the semi-urban ones in Dover and Concord.

  • Mike Hoefer

    From Richmond population 1077 with a median household income of $49,141 all the way over to Bedford population 18,274 with median household income of $84,392 (perhaps as high as $111,871 according to a 2007 estimate)

    Separated by 60 miles of two lane road it would take the senator of District 9 1.5 hours to drive from end to end.

    It’s an abomination.

    Gerrymandering

  • TimothyHorrigan

    It’s a perfect district for Speaker O’Brien.  The NH House has proven to be too small an arena for O’Brien’s ambitions: I believe that it is time for him to step up to the next level.

  • Marjorie Porter

    It is nowhere on line.  The Senate clerk’s office didn’t even know there WAS a map, and could not help me.  Talk about lack of transparency!

    Could someone send me a link?

    I need to know where Hillsboro, Deering, Antrim and Windsor were placed.

    • Marjorie Porter
  • Dean Barker

    the news that White, Forsythe, and Lambert not running for re-elex.

  • Mike Hoefer

    Quickest way from Rindge to Hollis (District 12) is via Ashby and MA.

    • elwood
    • Jennifer Daler
  • Paul Twomey

    A. At least you are seeing this and can comment on it unlike in the House where the Speaker let everyone waste months of work before dropping an unconstitutional, unfair plan only 24 hours before the only hearing. (and last I looked, that plan was yet to be posted online)

    B. Sure this is gerrymandered. But that is what happens when you lose elections after a census. Anyone who thinks Democrats wouldn’t have gerrymandered if they had their 2006 majorities is delusional. (They would however had a more open process and at least talked to the other party). What we need is an independent redistricting commission and a constitutional amendment that sets standards for redistricting. (Which I believe was proposed and defeated when the Democrats  controlled the Statehouse, no doubt because they were certain that they would ride the tide of  history and rule forever. Sometimes the tide of history becomes a riptide.)

    C This plan is no where near as bad as it could be. Not within a light year in fact.Just start with the fact that the cities are not split up into little pieces and buried in suburban towns. For the most part, the districts are reasonably compact and join communities with a modicum of shared interest. (I live in District 17 (Sen Barnes– in the present district, I couldnt find my way to some of the towns at the other end of the snake shape. At least I have been in every town in the new district and know people in all of them).

    D. The House leadership plan is far worse and the abuse of the process so far has been despicable. I give the Senate republicans credit for coming up with a fairly reasonable plan and making it public.

    • elwood

      You know this stuff.  But I’ll wait for a) analysis of the partisan tilts of the districts, and b) a comparison to other plausible maps, before reaching any conclusion of my own.

      • elwood

        But you may be too cynical in  claiming Dems would  have done the same thing.

        Many observers though the Dems would have been smart to keep straight ticket voting once we gained a majority. The party, fully in control of both houses and the Governorship, did away with it.

        • Paul Twomey

          That is something that NH Democrats should be proud about. At a point in which they thought that they would be the beneficiary of the unfair advantage that straight ticket gives to the majority party, they chose to do the right thing and give it up.
          The GOP would never, ever, ever do that (They had 70 or so years of unlimited power and straight ticket voting was only one of seven distinct ways in which they tilted the table in elections. Not once did they willingly give up an advantage).

          As it turned out, the Democrats were very fortunate that they did eliminate straight ticket voting– if it had been in place in  2010, they might have had trouble getting a quorum for a bridge game in the caucus after 2010. So sometimes it pays to do the right thing even when you think it will hurt.

          I sat through almost every single election bill hearing during from 2006 to 2008 and I am sorry to say that straight ticket is an isolated exception to what is otherwise a wasted opportunity to make elections in NH vastly fairer.
          (and to be sure, I think that NH nonetheless has one of the best election systems in the country). I say this only in the hope that the lesson will be learned if the opportunity is presented again.

          As for the senate redistricting, again, you can be certain that it favors the GOP– that is why they wrote it. But when you compare it to ‘plausible’ other plans, remember that the only really plausible plans are those written by the party with 19 seats.

          With my eyes closed I could draw up a plan in which Democrats would be very very unlikely to ever expand from the five seats they have now and cities would be stripped of at least half their seats. That is a ‘plausible’ plan and is actually what I expected to see. It would have been a monstrosity, both visually and in terms of creating districts that had no community of interests, but it is easy enough to do.

          • Kathy Sullivan 2

            And don’t get me started on the bill that would have forced groups like Cornerstone and NOM to disclose where their money came from. A Democratic rep said, we don’t want to be forced to say who donates to OUR groups.

            Why not?

            Oh, well, it’s in the past.

            • Rep. Jim Splaine

              …on why Senate Democrats didn’t follow House Democrats in 2008 and 2010 — and some Republicans — in prohibiting corporations from donating money from their treasuries to candidates and political parties, which constitutionally we had every right to do and which half the states and the federal government does.  

              Amazing that we passed up that opportunity.  More big bucks in the system.  

              • StraffordDem

                from American Prospect about CT fighting political corruption and big money.  We are making progress – NH next?

                http://prospect.org/article/cl

                Article starts off with a bang:

                In a year of reactionary politics and partisan gridlock nationwide, what made Connecticut so different? One-party control over both the governor’s office and the legislature for the first time in 21 years played a role. But the secret behind the Democrats’ success was sweeping campaign-finance reform enacted six years earlier. Reeling from the embarrassment of a corruption scandal that landed a governor in federal prison, Connecticut legislators grabbed the national spotlight in 2005 by stopping the flow of millions of special-interest dollars, banning lobbyist contributions, and instituting a public-financing system that record-setting numbers of candidates have embraced.

                • Rep. Jim Splaine

                  …and we can’t celebrate Granny D. and not support her cause of getting big money and corporate dollars out of campaigns and political parties.  

                  It’s bad enough that the U.S. Supreme Court calls corporations “people,” and the way to address that is the ongoing effort to create a Consitutional Amendment to make it clear that you need a heartbeat for “personhood.”  

                  Connecticut is a leader in this, as is, in ways, Maine and Oregon.  New Hampshire can be too, but not if we’re hypocritical and continue to take corporate treasury money to fund our politics.

                  Whenever we have the opportunity to stop it, we must.  Principle means something.  

                  • StraffordDem

                    Hasn’t been much in the news (go figure) but the Montana Supremes just told the US Supremes to kiss their ass that they were wrong regarding corporate personhood.

                    http://www.latimes.com/news/na

                    • StraffordDem
                • Paul Twomey

                  Although, as Kathy suggested I would add that Senator Hassan filed a disclosure bill in the aftermath of Citizens United that would have gone even farther than Connecticut in exposing and to an extent preventing the corrupting flood of secret money that so distorted things in 2010.

                  Both that bill and Jim’s good corporation bill were defeated because Democrats didn’t hold together and insist on clean election laws where vicious attack ads funded by secret money don’t trump good policy and the speech of real citizens.

                  I’m not interested in re-fighting those battles or assigning blame, but we all should accept a bit of responsibility for failing to seize an opportunity and resolve that it wont happen again.

                  • Rep. Jim Splaine

                    Good points, Paul.  There have to be responsible answers to the problems of big money and corporate influence.  

                    I suspect that the ongoing efforts at the State House may materialize into something, because both Democrats and Republicans have to be very upset with the undue influence of Corporate America.  

                    Legislation that requires disclosure and limitations at some level, yet doesn’t create a bureaucratic “permit process” for free speech can come from a dialogue genuinely intended to stop the abuse and secrecy.  Let’s hope so.

                    The recent experiences of the ‘Occupy” movement is an example of a group that could have easily been shut down if they could have been brought into court because they supposedly spent too much according to statute, or didn’t have the proper permits and dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s.”  

                    In other words, we can’t go after the “big one” at the expense of the little ones.  

                    “Free speech” is difficult to regulate through a solely governmental process, and laws can only go so far.  We need better laws on disclosure, and we have to find ways to get the media to care about who spends what on whom, and why.  

  • William Tucker

    My preliminary analysis indicates 11 Senate districts will have a more Republican partisan tilt, 7 districts will become more Democratic and 6 are virtually unchanged. More tomorrow…

    • TimothyHorrigan

      District 22 is not “virtually” unchanged: it is literally unchanged, “literally” as in exactly the same.  This is Lou d’Alessandro’s district.

      The plan seems positive for the Democrats in my area, the Seacoast.  Amanda Merrill gets a compact and solidly progressive district (although this does prevent Martha Fuller Clark from running again, since Portsmouth is now in with Durham.)  The new District 4 seems very winnable, and there are some great potential candidates in its communities (Barrington, Dover, Somersworth & Rollinsford.).  There are great Democrats, I mean: the Republicans who seem most likely to step forward are also very likely to lose.

      Republican Nancy Stiles’s district (#24) now excludes Portsmouth, but it is still play for a Democratic challenger.

      District #23 seems to have been designed to give Russell Prescott the advantage in a rematch with the Maggie Hassan— but Sen. Hassan is running for Governor, so the point is moot.

      District #6, on the other hand was designed to eliminate the chance for a rematch between Fenton Groen and Jackie Cilley, by splitting Rochester and Barrington.

      Distrct #17 is Jack Barnes’s district, and it has been moved more towards the center of the state.  

      • elwood
      • BurtCohen

        The SB 201 that I see has 24 including Portsmouth!

        What am I missing?

        • Paul Twomey

          Here is the statutory language:

          “Senatorial district number 24 is constituted of Greenland, Hampton, Hampton Falls, New Castle, Newington, North Hampton, Portsmouth, and Rye.”

          • Tim Ashwell

            But both the map and the population list Mike posted above include Portsmouth in District 21 with Durham, Lee, etc. (Good luck winning that seat, Republicans!)

            Seems there are some contradictions to be clarified.

            The decision to divide Durham and Dover, which clearly share a “community of interest,” is unfortunate. Strafford County is the bluest county. I suspect, by putting Durham, Dover and Rochester in separate districts, the Republicans are hoping to divide and conquer.

            • BurtCohen

              Damn good leverage. They never had 21 anyway.

              Unlike the bill I looked at (reasonable and quite different from the map), the map will be laughed out of court.

              So as in 2000, potential candidates will have to wait until the Supreme Court lays it out.
              No doubt better than this absurdity.

              • BurtCohen
        • Mike Hoefer

          in responding here but I think the language of the bill was before the revised plan came out?  

  • Mike Hoefer

    High School districts seem like a pretty good proxy for a “community of interest. My test is how many Senators does a High School “have”?

    Under this plan the two regional High Schools I’m most familiar with (Monadnock and Fall Mountain) will each have 3 Senators.

    - Monadnock will have kids from Districts 8, 9, and 10
    - Fall Mountain will have kids from 5, 8, 10

    I think it’s a pretty good indicator of districts that are not really keeping “Community of Interests” in mind.

    How many Senators does your High School have?

    • Paul Twomey

      To a large degree, high schools reflect a voluntary association of towns chosen by the people based upon contiguity and community of interest.

      All of the towns that feed our area high school (Pembroke) are in a single senate district for the first time that I can remember.

    • elwood

      bizarre school district boundaries, rather than bizarre Senate district boundaries.

      • Paul Twomey

        Although towns can and do change the alignments, it is not an easy process.  

    • JonnyBBad

      David Boutin R who voted to uphold Gov.Lynch’s RTW veto.

    • susanthe

      both have a plethora of high schools in their district. Senate district 1 is ridiculous, and 3 isn’t much better.  

      • Paul Twomey

        Its just a function of a relatively small population spread out over a lot of territory and towns. For the same reason, school districts tend to be smaller in population and larger in land area in the north.

        So no matter how you cut it up, the northern three districts will have lots of towns and lots of school districts. (It isnt how many school districts that a senate district contains that matters, it is whether and to what degree the school districts (which are probably a good reflection of communities with similar interests) are split up into different senate districts.

        It would be possible to make one and three somewhat more compact in area, although I am not sure what that would accomplish in terms of a community of interests. ( I just dont know the towns and school districts involved that well).

        • susanthe

          the “reasoning” behind it – but having a district that’s spread out over  such a huge area is unfair to the senator, and it means shitty representation for the folks who live in that district.

          It also means that the candidate who has the most money to blanket the district with signs and propaganda will win.

          Using population in the bottom makes sense in much of the state, but the one size fit all approach doesn’t serve the north country well.  

          • Paul Twomey

            Before the US Supreme Court ruled in 1964 that legislative districts had to be roughly the same population, NH used to assign representatives by towns. Towns that  didnt have enough population to have a full time representatives would take turns filling seats in the legislature.

            However every town was constitutionally guaranteed a seat for at least one two year session every decade between census adjustments. Thus one little tiny town in northern NH had three inhabitants, one of whom got to be a state representative for two out of every ten years.

            The fact that three people in the North Country had the same number of representatives as three thousand in Hillsborough County was often cited as the most extreme example of unfairness in the nation by the proponents of equal representation in the leadup to the Reynolds v Simms case that established the current rule of one person/one vote.

            • susanthe

              in 1964, living in the WARNING state. :)

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