Minority Population Growth Changes Electoral Districts

Voting Rights

Minority Population Growth Changes Five Majority-White Electoral Districts to Majority-Minority 

Census Data May Confirm That Even More Majority-Minority Districts Are Viable

A new analysis commissioned by Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) and conducted by Professor Maxwell Palmer of Boston University provides a preview of the opportunities that lie ahead to make representative democracy a reality in Massachusetts, particularly for people in racially and demographically diverse communities. 

Every ten years, following the decennial census, states redraw the lines of electoral districts at the local, state, and federal level through the redistricting process. The last redistricting cycle after the 2010 census led to the creation of Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional district, which is currently represented by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the first Black woman from Massachusetts elected to Congress. The new redistricting cycle presents a key opportunity to deepen and expand minority representation in the halls of power, especially on Beacon Hill. 

Data from the 2020 census will be released later this year, but we know already, based on Professor Palmer’s preliminary analysis of recent population trends, that Massachusetts is poised to increase the number of majority-minority voting districts in the State Legislature—namely, districts in which a racial minority group or coalition of minority groups comprise a majority of the total population. 

Currently, there are 20 majority-minority state house districts.

Professor Palmer’s report reveals that the Commonwealth’s population growth over the past decade has been driven primarily by increases in minority populations. Between 2010 and 2019, at least five state house districts have already changed from majority-white to majority-minority based on these demographic shifts. These include the following districts:

  • 9th Hampden
  • 28th Middlesex
  • 33rd Middlesex
  • 1st Norfolk; and 
  • 16th Worcester.

The demographic changes bring the total majority-minority districts in Massachusetts to 25. 

Additionally, three more districts are close to becoming majority-minority — or may serve as starting points to draw new majority-minority districts. These include the following districts:

  • 10th Plymouth
  • 15th Suffolk; and
  • 16th Suffolk.

“This analysis demonstrates that redistricting in 2021 poses an incredible opportunity for communities of color to expand their political power and elect representatives who understand their needs and respond to their interests,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director at LCR.

“Professor Palmer’s report lays critical groundwork for the process ahead, but new district lines won’t draw themselves,” said Janelle Dempsey, attorney at LCR. “We will need active participation of all communities across the Commonwealth to create a more representative, accountable, and diverse democracy,” added Dempsey.

Lawyers for Civil Rights is joining forces with the Drawing Democracy Coalition, including the Massachusetts Voter Table and MassVote, to elevate the voices, perspectives, and experiences of people of color in the redistricting process. In partnership with our allies, we look forward to generating electoral maps that harness the rich diversity of our communities and afford opportunities for meaningful political representation for the next decade.

Learn more about LCR’s voting rights work with community allies in Lowell and Worcester

Prof. Palmer’s analysis is available here: