Galvin Predicts Future Election Day ‘Chaos’ in Haverhill with Neighbors Having Different Ballots

Secretary of State William F. Galvin gestures to a county-level map showing the 2020 Census results. (Photograph by Sam Doran/SHNS.)

Secretary of State William Galvin yesterday predicted chaos in Haverhill as Gov. Charlie Baker signed redistricting legislation, noting for example, “the House and Senate appear to have split the same precinct two different ways using different census blocks.”

Shortly before Baker’s office confirmed that he signed bills redrawing all 160 House districts and all 40 Senate districts, Galvin said he was “extremely disappointed” the governor approved the legislation. He noted it is possible neighbors in Haverhill will have up to three different ballots.

“With local precincts divided multiple ways, it will inevitably lead to chaos at the polls and make it impossible for voters to understand who their elected representatives are,” he said.

Haverhill leaders immediately criticized the Senate redistricting plan, which split Haverhill into two Senate districts, when it came out two weeks ago. Rep. Andy X. Vargas, who has been eyeing a run for state Senate, told WHAV the plan to create minority majority districts may actually take away his opportunity.

“You don’t have to be a math genius, but obviously this makes it more difficult for a Haverhill candidate to win a Senate seat,” he said.

Vargas was joined by other area legislators, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini and the Haverhill City Council were unsuccessful in urging Senate leadership not to split individual gateway cities, such as Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence.

Galvin’s office provided a copy of a memo his staff sent to the governor Monday highlighting numerous examples of communities where precincts would be split. He told reporters, “Because so many districts were divided, precincts old and new, by both the House map and the Senate map and in fact not the same ones being divided, some voters might be confronted with multiple ballots, where if you live on Elm Street, you get this ballot, if I’m around the corner on Maple Street, I get a totally different ballot, and maybe there’s a third level too because we’re still awaiting congressional redistricting,” Galvin said.

Galvin, a Democrat, has clashed with legislators leading the decennial redistricting effort several times in recent months during a process complicated by the late delivery of U.S. Census population data. He unsuccessfully opposed a law, applicable only to the current redistricting effort, that changed deadlines and allowed the legislature to draw its House and Senate maps before cities and towns completed their local reprecincting work.

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