Redistricting in Maine

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Redistricting in Maine
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General information
Partisan control:
Legislative with Advisory Committee
September 30, 2011 (Congressional)
Total seats
State Senate:
State House:
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Redistricting on PolicypediaState legislative and congressional redistricting after the 2010 CensusState-by-state redistricting procedures

This page is about redistricting in Maine.

Maine did not gain or lose any seats from the reapportionment after the 2010 census. The state population increased by 4.2% to 1,328,361.[1] The south, particularly the area near the New Hampshire border, grew the fastest, while the northernmost area lost some population.

Maine was the only state that would have drawn new Congressional maps in 2013 rather than before the 2012 elections, but a June 2011 court ruling pushed that date forward.[2]

On August 4, 2011, Governor Paul LePage (R) called a special session for legislators to deal with redistricting, starting on September 27. On August 30, the commission voted 8-7 to send the Democratic redistricting map to the legislature. LePage signed a new map into law on September 28, 2011.[3]


The Maine Legislature is responsible for redistricting. Although there is a commission on redistricting, it officially only acts in an advisory role.

Advisory commission

There is a 15 member Advisory Apportionment Commission in Maine. Members are selected as follows:[4]

  • 3 members of the legislature appointed by the Speaker of the House
  • 3 members of the legislature appointed by the House Minority Leader
  • 2 members of the legislature appointed by the Senate Majority Leader
  • 2 members of the legislature appointed by the Senate Minority Leader
  • The state chair of each major party (2) or their private citizen designates
  • 1 private citizen appointed by each of the 6 members of each party
  • 1 private citizen chosen by the 2 private citizens



With a court-order to complete redistricting before September 30, 2011, the commission was named in early July 2011. The following people served on the commission.[5]

Democratic Party Democratic (6)

Republican Party Republicans (6)

Census results

On March 23, 2011, the Census Bureau shipped Maine's local census data to the governor and legislative leaders. This data guided redistricting for state and local offices. The data is publicly available for download.[6]

City/County population changes

These tables show the change in population in the five largest cities and counties in Maine from 2000-2010.[7]

Top Five most populous cities
City 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Portland 64,249 66,194 3.0%
Lewiston 35,690 36,592 2.5%
Bangor 31,473 33,039 5.0%
South Portland 23,324 25,002 7.2%
Auburn 23,203 23,055 -0.6%
Top Five most populous counties
County 2000 Population 2010 Population Percent Change
Cumberland 265,612 281,674 6.0%
York 186,742 197,131 5.6%
Penobscot 144,919 153,923 6.2%
Kennebec 117,114 122,151 4.3%
Androscoggin 103,793 107,702 3.8%

Prison-based redistricting

Criticism of prison-based redistricting increased following the January 8, 2011 decision by Maine's Regional School Unit 13 to close a local school and move 8th graders to a regional school. According to critics, supporters of closing the school only succeeded because of extra votes they should not have.

Each town receives a weighed number of votes based on population. The population of the town of Thomaston was based on 2006 Census Bureau estimates, which included the non-resident population of a state prison which closed years before.[8]

There has been a movement in some states to change how prison populations are counted. In 2011, Delaware, Maryland and New York, altered how they counted their prison populations for redistricting purposes. For the first time, prisoners would be counted according to their last known addresses, rather than their prison address, which inflates the power of prison districts.[9]

Possible loss of legislative seats

In late January 2011, a member of the state's House of Representatives, Portland Democrat John Hinck, proposed LD 153, alternately HP 136, which would shrink both the House and the Maine State Senate. The two chambers, currently seating 151 and 35 members, respectively, would be trimmed to 101 and 23, respectively.[10]

Before it could become law, LD 153 needed to receive a super majority in both chambers, at which point it would become a proposed Constitutional Amendment for voters to consider in November 2012. Upon its introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee for State and Local Government of both the Senate and the House. The Committee rejected this proposal and several other similar proposals that would have reduced the size of the State House and State Senate.[11]

Congressional Maps

Legal challenges

Maine's law required that the state waited until 2013 to redraw Congressional maps. Two citizens filed suit, arguing that this law was nonsensical when the data are already available. A lawsuit filed for them in federal court, Desena v. State of Maine, sought to have the timetable pushed forward.[12][13]

Although the state's Constitution requires that maps for the state's House and Senate be drawn in 2013, the law mandating that Congressional maps be done at the same time was only in statute.

Central to the complaint was information in the Census indicating Maine's two Congressional districts, which remained as they were for the 2012 election as things stood, were out of balance and could have led to vote dilation for southern Mainers. 2010 population counts showed the 1st District having 668,515 residents and the 2nd 659,846, a difference of 8,669.[14]

A panel of three federal judges said on April 27, 2011 that the lawsuit was on a fast track. Parties were given three weeks to submit written briefs, with oral arguments occurring in the second week in June. The Democratic Party, which opposed the suit, was granted intervenor status. They argued that the suit was an attempt by Republicans to gerrymander the two districts in order to put Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud in the same district, forcing them to be in opposition to one another.[15]

The three-judge panel consisted of U.S. District Court Judges for Maine D. Brock Hornby and George Singal, with First Circuit Judge Bruce Selya acting as chairman. If the panel's ruling was appealed, it would have gone directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.[16]

State senator Debra Plowman (R) and State rep Kenneth Fredette (R) discuss the two proposed redistricting plans in August 2011.

The first hearing was Thursday, June 9, 2011 in Portland. Although the plaintiffs contended that the delay was unconstitutional, the Maine Democratic Party joined the fray on the other side, describing the arrangement as one working too well to justify significant change.[17] The three judges handed down a swift decision, finding Maine's two seats disproportionate and ruling the redistricting had to occur before the 2012 elections.[18] Under the ruling, Maine had until the first day of 2012 to redistrict the state.

Parties were given until June 20, 2011 to suggest action going-forward, and were warned the panel would take actual redistricting upon itself if no satisfactory plan were put forward.

New timeline

After the judicial panel made its holding, the three parties involved in the case submitted proposals for how to complete redistricting in the allotted time.[19]

  • State: The defendant left details vague and promoted creating a resolution aimed at a December 1, 2011 deadline for the new map.[20]
  • Plaintiffs: The two residents proposed allowing a panel of judges to make the decision.
  • Democratic Party: The Democrats proposed a compressed timeline following the same standard procedure for creating the new Congressional map.[19]

On June 22, 2011, Judge George Singal ordered the Maine State Legislature to finish redistricting by September 30, 2011. If it did not complete that task, then the Maine Supreme Court would have until November 15 to finish redrawing the two districts.[21]

Commission meetings

Part 1 of the Maine Reapportionment commission meeting on August 15, 2011.

Part 2 of the Maine Reapportionment commission meeting on August 15, 2011
  • The commission met on July 20, 2011 to begin drafting the new map for the two Congressional districts. Working on a tight deadline, the commission was tasked with creating a new map that minimized the population difference between the two districts, which the old map left at approximately 6,800 people.[22]
  • At the time the 1st Congressional District had 8,669 more people than the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic and Republican interests presented maps to the commission on August 15, 2011.[23]

Special session

On August 4, 2011, Governor Paul LePage (R) called a special session for legislators to deal with redistricting, starting on September 27. A bipartisan commission created a map and submit it to legislators for a vote during the session.[24][25]

Maps proposed

Democratic and Republican groups each proposed a draft version of a new Congressional map. The maps were released in mid-August 2011.

In August 2011, Democrats and Republican each released a draft plan to redraw the two Congressional districts. The Democratic plan had very small differences from the then-current map. However, the Republican proposal moved several counties around and notably, would have moved Congresswoman Chellie Pingree out of the 1st Congressional district.[26] The following counties would be moved:

  • Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc from the 1st to the 2nd District
  • Oxford, Androscoggin from the 2nd to the 1st District
  • Kennebec County would be entirely within the 2nd District
  • Franklin County would be divided between the two districts

Both plans accomplished the task of making the districts' populations essentially the same.[27]

At a redistricting meeting on August 15, 2011 -- where the maps were unveiled -- Democratic and Republican legislators got into a heated debate over the proposals. State senator Seth Goodall (D) and State representative Kenneth Fredette (R) exchanged words over the relocation of Pingree from the 1st District. The conversation that transpired:

Fredette: "Is someone going to show me in the law or in a court decision where it's going to say you need to take into consideration where your current sitting congressional members sit when you redraw a map. Does that exist?"

Goodall: "That does not exist, but the question would be why would you do that based on the risks that would have to voter displacement as well as other relationships that help the state of Maine?"

Fredette: "I appreciate you answering with a question...if maintaining the status quo is essentially protecting two Democratic congressmen that's not what we're here to do. We're here to do apportionment."[28]

Congressional representatives' opinion

Democratic officials Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud -- Maine's two US Representatives in 2011 -- both spoke out strongly against the Republican proposal for redistricting. Pingree said: "Let's not pretend that there's anything fair or reasonable about this. This is the Republicans trying to take a partisan advantage, upend 360,000 people in Maine from the district they're used to being in for basic gerrymandering and breaking the rules." Michaud echoed that sentiment. "It's more of them trying to be cute and come up wtih a plan that puts us both together. But people in the state of Maine are tired of partisan politics and I think it's going to backfire on them."[29] Both Pingree and Michaud said they will be running for re-election in 2012.

Public weighs in

Maine residents weigh in on redistricting

On August 23, 2011, a public hearing was held to gather citizen input on the proposed maps. More than 40 people spoke at the hearing. The majority of those individuals spoke out in support of the Democratic plan, which left the map largely intact besides correcting for population.[30] At the meeting, one resident accused State senator Kevin Raye -- the President of the Senate -- of secretly recording phone calls with constituents. Raye denied the charges. The resident, Susan Cook, was the secretary for the Maine Democratic Party. Raye called the accusations "baseless."[31]

Possible compromise

During the week of August 22, 2011, Democratic and Republican officials worked on a compromise plan. On August 24, the GOP withdrew an alternative map that was meant to address Democratic concerns. Each party then blamed the other for the ongoing tension. The alternative was rumored to leave Congressional representative Pingree in the 1st District.[32] On August 25, partisan leaders -- Democratic Senators Seth Goodall (D) and Debra Plowman (R) -- vowed to continue working together toward a map the legislature could support.[33]

Commission approves map

The commission approved a map on August 30, 2011. The map is non-binding to the legislature.

On August 30, 2011, the commission voted along party lines 8-7 to send the Democratic-proposed map to the legislature. The deciding vote was cast by independent Michael Friedman, who also served as commission chair. Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, York and part of Kennebec counties will be in the new 1st District. [34]

The approved map -- called Vassalboro-Gardiner -- shifted Gardiner, Vassalboro, Vienna, Rome, Oakland Wayne and Unity townships in order to make the districts constitutional. About 20,000 voters were affected. The Republicans map was also sent along in the form of a minority report, according to State senator Debra Plowman (R).

Republicans had presented a last-minute compromise attempt before the August 30, 2011 meeting, but the commission opted for the Democratic map. Maine state representative Leslie Fossel (R) expressed frustration over the lack of consensus on a map.[35]

"Throughout this process, Republicans have attempted to accommodate their Democratic counterparts on the commission, only to have them move the goalposts again and again," Fossell said. "We feel this latest consensus map is a reasonable proposal, and we hope that they will embrace the spirit of compromise and put the people of Maine over their political agenda."

Map approved

The approved Congressional map makes little structural changes to the two districts.

In a special session on September 27, 2011, Maine state legislators approved a new Congressional map with nearly unanimous approval. The votes were 140-3 in the Maine House of Representatives and 35-0 in the Maine State Senate.[36]

Although Republicans had initially proposed radically altering the two districts -- including possibly placing both incumbents in the same district -- the final plan made little structural changes to the map. The two districts are largely the same, except they have virtually the same population. Only Kennebec County was affected by the new map, with Waterville and Winslow shifting from the 2nd to the 1st District. Also, 11 towns moved from the 1st to the 2nd District.[36]

Tension marked the weeks leading up to the session, but ultimately there was little controversy. Some citizens had threatened the possibility of a people’s veto if Republicans passed a bill that did not obtain 2/3 majority of voters. However, the sweeping bipartisan support for the final map suggested that any further political challenges were unlikely.[37]

On September 28, 2011, Governor Paul LePage (R) signed the bill into law.[38]

Lawsuit deadline

The Maine Supreme Court set a deadline of October 12 for any lawsuit regarding the passed Congressional map.[39]

Legislative maps

Commission completes work

The 15-member redistricting commission began the process of redrawing state House and Senate maps on February 1, 2013. The commission was led by Chairman Michael Friedman, an attorney who also led the congressional redistricting committee.

A redistricting plan was passed unanimously by the Maine Redistricting Commission on May 31, 2013.[40] The Senate unanimously approved the redistricting plan and the House followed by voting 133-11 to pass the plan. Governor Paul LePage has until June 11, 2013 to sign the plan or districts will be drawn by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.[41]

Legal issues

Congressional map timeline

Maine's law required that the state wait until 2013 to redraw Congressional maps. Two citizens argued that this law was nonsensical when the data was already available. A lawsuit filed for them in federal court, Desena v. State of Maine, sought to have the timetable pushed forward.[42][43]

While the state's Constitution requires that maps for the state's House and Senate be drawn in 2013, the law mandating that Congressional maps be done at the same time was only a statute.

Central to the complaint was information in the Census indicating Maine's two Congressional districts, based on the lines used in the 2010 elections that would have remained as they were for the 2012 election if the law stood, were out of balance and could under-represent southern Mainers.

Independent voter lawsuit

On August 22, 2011, independent voter Mike Turcotte filed a lawsuit that alleged the political parties had too much control over the map-drawing process. The suite indicated that the ratio of unenrolled voters to political parties on the redistricting commission was unequal to that of the voter registration in Maine, thereby violating "equal representation." The commission is made up of 15 members -- 14 of which are registered Democratic or Republican.

Dan Billings, chief legal counsel for Governor Paul LePage (R) said the suit would "go away quickly." Billings was also a member of the 15-person reapportionment panel.[44]

Partisan Registration by District

Partisan Registration and Representation by Congressional District, 2010
Congressional District[45] Republicans Democrats Other District Total Party Advantage* 111th Congress 112th Congress
1 (Southwest Shore)
2 (remainder of the state)
State Totals 272,871 322,848 378,136 973,855 18.32% Democratic 2 D, 0 R 2 D, 0 R
*The partisan registration advantage was computed as the gap between the two major parties in registered voters.


Figure 1: This map shows the Maine Congressional Districts after the 2000 census.

Prior to 1964, the Maine House of Representatives was apportioned by a complex process whereby each county was allotted the same proportion of the total 151 representatives as the county's population in relation to the state's total population. The House was responsible for redistricting itself, but this often led to inaction due to rural/urban conflicts. This was partly reinforced by the state Constitution, which included provisions that benefited rural voters and the Republican Party.

Prior to 1966, the Maine State Senate was redistricted by counties, with each county considered a district. Seats were divided among the districts by population, with no district allotted more than five. The Senate had no constitutional requirement to reapportion and only did so when population growth led a county to earn a new seat. To that end, there were no changes in Senate districts from 1931-61.

In 1961, the legislature formed a constitutional commission in order to create a redistricting plan for both chambers. The commission made a series of recommendations, only to have them rejected by the legislature. However, a modified version of the plan for the House was approved by voters as a constitutional amendment in 1963. Among other things, the amendment brought districts closer in population and also stated that if the legislature failed to redistrict, the Supreme Judicial Court took over the task. The House used these rules to redistrict in 1964, leading to an increase in the competitiveness of elections and in the number of Democrats in office.

Similarly, voters in 1966 approved a constitutional referendum dealing with Senate redistricting. During that same year, a special commission on Senate reapportionment was created. However, due to conflicts with the legislature, they failed to approve a plan, and the job was taken up by the Supreme Judicial Court. Like the 1964 House plan, the 1967 Senate plan took undue advantage from rural sectors, effectively increasing the number of Democrats elected.

In 1969, voters approved another amendment which refined the Senate redistricting process. The Senate was scheduled to be reapportion during the 1971 session, but the legislature was unable to agree on a plan, leaving it up to the Supreme Judicial Court. When it came time for the House in 1974, the legislature once again failed to pass a plan, and the Court had to step in.[46]

Deviation from "Ideal Districts"

2000 Population Deviation[47]
Office Percentage
Congressional Districts 0.00%
State House Districts 9.33%
State Senate Districts 3.57%
Under federal law, districts may vary from an 'Ideal District' by up to 10%, though the lowest number achievable is preferred. 'Ideal Districts' are computed through simple division of the number of seats for any office into the population at the time of the Census.

Lawsuits related to the 2000 Census

The 2003 Apportionment Commission's plans for Congress, Senate and House all ended up in the courts. The Commission's plan for congressional districts was not approved by the Legislature, leaving the Supreme Judicial Court to draw the boundaries. The Court also drew the Senate districts, as the Commission failed to pass such a plan. The Commission's plan for the House was passed and signed by the governor, but challenged by various parties for compactness and contiguity issues. All challenges were rejected by the court.[48]

Constitutional explanation

The Maine Constitution provides authority for the Legislature to establish an Apportionment Commission to develop a plan for redistricting the House, Senate, or both in Section 1A, Part Third of Article IV. The Legislature, as stated in Section 3, Part First of Article IV, may enact the Commission's plan or a plan of its own.

Ballot measures

The following measures have appeared on the Maine ballot pertaining to redistricting.

See also

External links


  1. Bangor Daily News, "Maine’s population grows by 4.2 percent," December 21, 2010
  2. Stateline "As redistricting gets underway, New Jersey is already gridlocked," March 10, 2011
  3. WMTW "Maine Reapportionment Panel Backs Democratic Plan," August 30, 2011
  4. Rose Institute of State and Local Government, "Redistricting in America: A state-by-state analysis," April 21, 2010
  5. The Republic "15-member panel commissioned to redraw Maine congressional district line near completion," July 5, 2011
  6. PR Newswire, "Media Advisory — Census Bureau Ships Local 2010 Census Data to Maine," March 23, 2011
  7. U.S. Census Bureau, "Maine Custom tables 2010," accessed March 24, 2011
  8. Prisoners of the Census, "Prison-based gerrymandering costs Maine 8th graders local schooling", February 15, 2011
  9. Kensington Patch, "New Law, Technology Freshen Maryland's Redistricting Process," December 15, 2010
  10. Ballot Access News, "Maine Bill to Shrink Number of State Legislators", February 4, 2011
  11. [Bangor Daily News, "Committee rejects three bills to shrink the Legislature," May 3, 2011
  12. The Republic, "Federal lawsuit urges action to ensure Maine redistricting is completed before 2012 election," March 29, 2011
  13. Bangor Daily News, "Lawsuit aims to speed Maine redistricting", March 29, 2011
  14. Daily Reporter, "Federal lawsuit urges action to ensure Maine redistricting is completed before 2012 election," March 29, 2011
  15. [Kennebec Journal, "Federal judges to review redistricting lawsuit," April 27, 2011
  16. Portland Press Herald "Redistricting suit sees speedy resolution from judges," April 28, 2011
  17. Real Clear Politics, "Maine redistricting lawsuit goes before judge", June 9, 2011
  18. Maine Public Broadcasting Network, "Judges Order Maine to Redraw Congressional Districts", June 9, 2011
  19. 19.0 19.1 Portland Press Herald "Three groups submit redistricting proposals for Maine," June 21, 2011
  20. Portland Press Herald "State seeks Dec. 1 deadline for redistricting plan," June 20, 2011
  21. Bangor Daily News "Judge issues timeline in Maine redistricting," June 23, 2011
  22. WABI TV "Commission Meets To Alter & Equalize Maine's Congressional Districts," July 20, 2011
  23. Dirigo Blue "Reapportionment Commission will hear public comments on proposed redistricting plans," August 1, 2011
  24. Bangor Daily News "LePage calls special session for redistricting," August 4, 2011
  25. Sun Jornal "LePage announces special session for congressional redistricting plan," August 4, 2011
  26. Boston Globe "Maine congressional redistricting plans differ," August 15, 2011
  27. Bangor Daily News "Republicans’ redistricting plan would add more GOP voters to 2nd District," August 15, 2011
  28. WABI "Republicans & Democrats Miles Apart On Redistricting Congressional Districts," August 15, 2011
  29. WCSH 6 "Pingree, Michaud weigh in on redistricting," August 18, 2011
  30. Houston Chronicle "Mainers speak out on redistricting plans," August 23, 2011
  31. Bangor Daily News "Senate president calls for apology for ‘scurrilous’ accusations," August 23, 2011
  32. Sun Journal "GOP withdraws compromise from congressional redistricting hearing," August 24, 2011
  33. Sun Journal "Parties refocus on consensus redistricting; some GOP lawmakers hedge on 'radical' map," August 25, 2011
  34. WLBZ "Redistricting plan moves on to legislature," August 30, 2011
  35. Bangor Daily News "Last-ditch efforts on redistricting unlikely to produce compromise," August 29, 2011
  36. 36.0 36.1 Bangor Daily News "After long partisan fight, redistricting deal keeps boundaries much the same," September 27, 2011
  37. Maine Political Pulse "People’s veto threatened if GOP pushes majority vote on redistricting," September 25, 2011
  38. Boston Globe "Maine gov signs bath salts, redistricting bills," September 28, 2011
  39. WMTW 8 "Deadline Set For Redistricting Challenge," October 6, 2011
  40., "Maine commission unanimously approves redistricting," May 31, 2013
  41. Bangor Daily News, "Redrawn Maine legislative districts easily win House, Senate endorsements," June 5, 2013
  42. The Republic, "Federal lawsuit urges action to ensure Maine redistricting is completed before 2012 election," March 29, 2011
  43. Bangor Daily News, "Lawsuit aims to speed Maine redistricting", March 29, 2011
  44. Online Sentinel "Independent's lawsuit called 'unfounded'" August 23, 2011
  45. Maine Secretary of State, "REGISTERED & ENROLLED VOTERS - STATEWIDE", October 31, 2010
  46. Policy Archive, "Reapportionment Politics: The History of Redistricting in the 50 States," Rose Institute of State and Local Government, January 1981 (pg.138-144)
  47. National Conference of State Legislatures, “Redistricting 2000 Population Deviation Table”, accessed February 1, 2011
  48. Minnesota State Senate "2000 Redistricting Case Summaries"