Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

Maine

State Summary

In Maine, primary responsibility for congressional and state legislative districts falls on the state legislature, which may pass a plan with a 2/3 supermajority of each legislative chamber.  The process is aided by a 15-member advisory commission.  If the legislature does not pass a plan, responsibility falls to the state Supreme Court.

In the 2010 cycle,the legislature passed a congressional plan (LD 1590) on Sept. 27, 2011, which was signed by the Governor on Sept. 28, 2011.  It passed a state legislative plan (LD 1557) on June 5, 2013, which was signed by the Governor on June 14, 2013.

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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

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Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

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Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

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Institution

Primary responsibility for Maine’s congressional and state legislative lines rests with the state legislature, which may pass a plan on a vote of 2/3 of the members of each legislative chamber, subject to gubernatorial veto.

This process is aided by a 15-member advisory commission. The state Senate majority and minority leaders each choose 2 commissioners; state House majority and minority leaders each choose 3; and the chair of the state’s two major parties each choose 1. Those 12 commissioners then choose two more from the public, with each party’s representatives coordinating to choose 1 commissioner, and those 2 commissioners select a third and final member.  [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 3, § 1-A; Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206] This commission recommends congressional and state legislative plans to the legislature, which may adopt, modify, or ignore the commission’s proposals.

If the legislature fails to pass a plan within the time provided by state law, the state Supreme Court has both jurisdiction and responsibility to draw the appropriate plan. [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 3; pt. 2, § 2; Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206(2)]

Timing

For both congressional and state legislative plans, the advisory commission must submit a plan by June 1, 2021, and the legislature’s deadline is June 11, 2021.  If the legislature fails to pass a plan, the state Supreme Court will step in, and must draw lines within 60 days.  [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 3; pt. 2, § 2; Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206(1)-(2)]  The legislative session began on Dec. 2, 2020, and is currently scheduled to end on June 16, 2021.

Candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by Mar. 15, 2022. [Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A § 335(8)]

The Maine constitution ties the drawing of state legislative lines to a decennial cycle, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 2; pt. 2, § 2Opinion of the Justices, 283 A.2d 234 (Me. 1971)]

Public input

Neither the legislature nor the advisory commission have announced specific plans for public input this cycle just yet.

Criteria

Like all states, Maine must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and further requires that its state legislative districts be equally populated “as nearly as practicable.” [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 2; pt. 2, § 2]

Maine must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

By statute, Maine further requires that congressional districts be compact and contiguous, and that they cross political subdivision lines as few times as possible. The legislature may modify this statute at any time. [Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206]

The state constitution also requires that state legislative districts be compact and contiguous, and that they cross political subdivision lines as few times as possible. [Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 2; pt. 2, § 2] By statute (which the legislature can modify at any time), Maine has further defined “compact and contiguous” districts in the state legislative context as those that minimize impediments to travel within the district; similarly, the legislature has explained that “all political subdivision boundaries are not of equal importance,” and stated that in making choices among these boundaries, local community interests should be heeded. [Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206-A]

2010 cycle

Maine’s legislature passed a congressional plan (LD 1590) on Sept. 27, 2011, which was signed by the Governor on Sept. 28, 2011.

Maine’s legislature passed a state legislative plan (LD 1557) on June 5, 2013, which was signed by the Governor on June 14, 2013.

The congressional plan was challenged in federal court, and upheld.  [Desena v. Maine, 793 F. Supp. 2d 456 (D. Me. 2011); Turcotte v. LePage, No. 1:11-cv-00312, 2011 WL 6057844 (D. Me. Nov. 30, 2011)]

2000 cycle

Maine’s legislature enacted a plan for the state House (LD 1610), signed on May 23, 2003. It did not, however, pass a congressional plan or a plan for the state Senate by the constitutional deadline; therefore, on July 2, 2003, the state Supreme Court issued the respective redistricting plans.

The state House plan was challenged in state court, and upheld.  [In re 2003 Apportionment of the State Senate and United States Congressional Districts, 827 A.2d 844 (Me. 2003); In re 2003 Legislative Apportionment of the House of Representatives , 827 A.2d 810 (Me. 2003)]

Redistricting Cases in Maine

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Maine | Federal Trial | Federal Appellate | Process
Turcotte v. LePage
Federal court rejected challenge to composition of advisory commission
Last Updated Jan 30, 2013
Case Number

No. 01:11-cv-00312 (D. Me), No. 12-1229 (1st Cir.)

Cycle 2010