(The Center Square) – Maine's leaders have signed off on new political maps for the state's congressional and legislative districts, making it one of the first states to finalize its boundaries ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Gov. Janet Mills, who signed the redistricting changes into law on Wednesday, praised lawmakers for avoiding partisan bickering as they redrew the state's political maps.
"To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of," Mills, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The Legislature voted to approve the new maps during a special session last week, making it the second state – after Oregon – to approve new congressional and legislative district maps.
Redistricting is required every 10 years after new U.S. Census data is released.
The redistricting process itself was delayed because of setbacks in finalizing the city and town census data provided to states to redraw their political maps.
Democrats control both the state House of Representatives and Senate in Maine, but unlike other states they weren't allowed to draw the new political boundaries themselves.
Under state law, the new political boundaries were drawn by a bipartisan redistricting commission that is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with a Maine Supreme Court judge serving as chairman. The state Legislature must approve the new maps by a two-thirds vote.
Data from the 2020 U.S. Census shows that Maine’s population grew by 34,000 people over the past decade, and the commission is required to evenly split the two congressional districts based on population.
The census data shows Maine’s 1st Congressional District, which is currently represented by Democrat Chellie Pingree, grew more than the 2nd District, which is represented by Democrat Jared Golden. Maine also has two U.S. senators, and the redistricting process didn't impact that representation.
One of the biggest changes from the redistricting process was moving Augusta, the state's capital city, from the 1st to the 2nd Congressional District.
Democrats and Republicans on the redistricting committee also wrangled over moving Waterville, the state's second largest city, from the 1st Congressional District into the 2nd Congressional District.
The redistricting commission also approved political boundaries for the state Legislature's 151 House districts and 35 Senate districts.