By Sarah Marshall
The 2020 census shows not only changes in the town’s total population and make-up, but uneven changes in populations across local voting precincts. The changes are large enough to require the Town to “re-precinct” for elections beginning in 2022. A Districting Advisory Board (DAB) began work earlier this summer and must submit its recommended precinct map in mid-October; Town Council must approve the new precincts and submit them to the State by the end of October. (The urgency of the work explains this weekend announcement.)
The DAB invites the public to comment on two maps it has drafted. The draft maps, available census data, interactive mapping tools, and related materials can be accessed from the DAB committee webpage, https://www.amherstma.gov/3624/Districting-Advisory-Board.
The first draft map is available at https://bit.ly/DABMapV1 and the second draft map at https://bit.ly/DABMapV2. The link to the current precinct and district map is available here: https://bit.ly/2010AMAPrecinctMap for comparison (note that polling locations have since changed for precincts 2, 4, and 10).
To provide feedback on the draft maps, email firstname.lastname@example.org (with the subject line: DAB). The weekly DAB meetings include public comment periods and residents are welcome to offer feedback at that time. The next DAB meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, at 5:30 p.m.
8 thoughts on “Editors’ Note #7: Public comment solicited on draft maps of new precincts”
The latest draft maps from the DAB are available in the online packet for next Tuesday’s (9/28) DAB meeting. https://www.amherstma.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/4361
They can also be viewed in person at Town Hall. They are posted near the Town Clerk’s counter. These versions of the maps include both updated precincts and districts.
for whatever reason I can’t use any of these links to see a map… may be a problem with my browser? can’t tell Elisa
On Sat, Sep 18, 2021 at 1:40 AM THE AMHERST CURRENT wrote:
> The Amherst Current posted: ” By Sarah Marshall The 2020 census shows not > only changes in the town’s total population and make-up, but uneven changes > in populations across local voting precincts. The changes are large enough > to require the Town to “re-precinct” for elections begin” >
I am sorry you are having trouble, Elisa – they work for me on various devices!
Elisa, the maps can also also available in the Districting Advisory Board’s meeting packets. Here’s the link: https://www.amherstma.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/4361
The two draft maps the DAB is seeking public comment on are in the packet for the Sept 21st meeting. There are also links to an interactive map (Precinct Building Map) on the DAB’s web page. This tool allow people to group different Census blocks together and to see the population data for each group. There is a how-to guide for the Precinct Building Map on the DAB page. https://www.amherstma.gov/3624/Districting-Advisory-Board
My apologies for an typo in my earlier post. I left out a 3-letter word — NOT — that makes such a difference. Here are the corrected sentences: “One thing the DAB is considering is whether the precincts should be grouped into different pairings for the districts than they were when the new charter was approved, and when Amherst switched from to a Town Council, Town Manager form of government. The DAB has NOT made any decisions on this yet, but is exploring possible grouping options, such as the Charter Commission did during its process.”
I’ve long thought that District 5 included incompatible bed fellows. Precinct 7 is made up of apartment dwellers and single family homes with average or below average values. Precinct 8 includes newer, more expensive developments like Amherst Woods. My suspicion is that the two precincts differ also in income and racial diversity. And in political views as well. I believe that #7 would fit better in a new district with #4 to its north. What do other readers think?
I also wanted to comment that one of the challenges the DAB faces in creating the updated voting precincts is that Amherst’s 2020 population (US Census Bureau) being used for the precincts is 39,263, and that State law requires that all precincts contain less than 4,000 residents. In Amherst with 10 precincts there isn’t much room between the 3,926 average population per precinct, and the 4,000 limit. Plus, Census blocks make up each precinct (a single Census block can’t be divided into multiple precincts) and some Census blocks, for example, those covering some of the UMass dorms, have populations of 1,000-2,000 people or more. Even with Census blocks with lower populations, tweaking the draft map to switch them from one precinct to another to reflect the 2020 data and group the blocks better, can potentially result in a precinct population of over 4,000, which is not permitted, so often one tweak by necessity then requires additional tweaks as well. The DAB’s web page on the amherstma.gov site includes interactive mapping tools where the public can play with creating their own updated precincts and districts, and see the Census population counts for these configurations.
As a DAB member, I appreciate the Amherst Current publishing this announcement. Thank you. The DAB’s recommendations are due to the Town Council in a few weeks, and public input has, and will continue to inform the DAB’s decision-making on how best to adjust precinct and district boundaries to reflect the 2020 Census data. The final approved map must include both precincts and districts. The districts are expected to continue to consist of two precincts each. One thing the DAB is considering is whether the precincts should be grouped into different pairings for the district, than they were when the new charter was approved, and Amherst switched from to a Town Council, Town Manager form of government. The DAB has made any decisions on this yet, but is exploring possible grouping options, such as the Charter Commission did during each process.
Some feedback that the DAB has received so far has asked that the DAB consider criteria such as demographic and socio-economic factors (age, race, household income, etc.) in our precinct boundaries and district groupings, and that we share this information. Unfortunately, the only detailed 2020 U.S. Census data currently available are population counts, and population counts by race and Hispanic origin. Other 2020 Census data such as for age, income, household type, etc. will not be released until after the deadline for submitting the updated precinct and district map to the State for approval.
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