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

Massachusetts

State Summary

Massachusetts’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the legislature, as normal legislation, subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, the legislature passed congressional plans (H. 3798) on Nov. 16, 2011, which were signed by the Governor on Nov. 21, 2011.  The legislature passed state Senate (S. 2045) and state House (H. 3770) plans on Nov. 1, 2011, which were signed by the governor on Nov. 3, 2011.

,

Seats:

Institution:

Drawn by:

Plan Status:

Party Control:
  Upper House:
  Lower House:
  Governor:

Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Primary governing law

Data

Download Data for ,

Shapefile GeoJSON PDF

Shapefile source:

Institution

Massachusetts’ congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The Massachusetts constitution vests original jurisdiction in the state Supreme Court for review of state legislative lines in state court. By statute, the legislature has provided a similar provision for congressional lines. [Mass. Const. amend. art. CI, § 32011 Mass. Legis. ch. 177, § 10 (H. 3798)]

Timing

Massachusetts state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by June 7, 2022. [Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 53, §§ 10, 48]  The legislative session began on Jan. 6, 2021, and continues through the end of the year.

State legislative lines must be drawn in the first legislative session after the federal Census is conducted; that session began on Jan. 6, 2021, and continues through the end of the year.  [Mass. Const. amend. art. CI]  Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by May 31, 2022. [Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 53, §§ 10, 48]

Massachusetts law appears to tie the drawing of state legislative lines to the Census, and to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [Mass. Const. amend. art. CXIX]

Public input

The legislature has not yet announced any specific plans for public input this cycle.

Criteria

Like all states, Massachusetts must comply with constitutional equal population requirements, and further requires that its state legislative districts be as nearly equal in population “as may be.” [Mass. Const. amend. art. CI]

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

Massachusetts law further provides that state legislative districts be contiguous, and that they reasonably preserve counties, towns, and cities intact, where otherwise possible. There are no similar provisions for congressional districts. [Mass. Const. amend. art. CIMayor of Cambridge v. Secretary, 436 Mass. 476 (2002).]

2010 cycle

The Massachusetts legislature passed congressional plans (H. 3798) on Nov. 16, 2011, which were signed by the Governor on Nov. 21, 2011.

The legislature passed state Senate (S. 2045) and state House (H. 3770) plans on Nov. 1, 2011, which were signed by the governor on Nov. 3, 2011.

It appears that the plans were not challenged in court.

2000 cycle

The Massachusetts legislature enacted congressional plans (H. 4778) on Feb. 11, 2002, without the Governor’s signature. The legislature enacted state Senate (S. 2165) and state House (H. 4701) plans, signed by the Governor on Nov. 8, 2001.

The state House plan was challenged in state and federal court; the plan was upheld in state court, but struck down in federal court, based on violations of the Voting Rights Act. The state submitted an adjusted map that was approved by the court on Apr. 16, 2004, and then formally enacted by the legislature (H. 4686) and signed by the Governor on Apr. 21, 2004.  [Black Political Task Force v. Galvin, 300 F. Supp. 2d 291 (D. Mass. 2004); Mayor of Cambridge v. Secretary, 436 Mass. 476 (2002); McClure v. Secretary, 436 Mass. 614 (2002)]