Boston City Councilor At-Large Michael F. Flaherty, Chair of the Committee on Government Operations, has announced recommendation of a passage two legislative proposals that address population growth in our city and our need to assess resources as the 2020 Census in motion for next year with redistricting to follow on Federal, State, and Local levels. The recommendation for passage comes after Councilor Flaherty convened a thorough public hearing on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 during which the Committee on Government Operations heard from City of Boston Elections Department representatives, along with community stakeholders who review population and voter turnout data.
The first legislation is a home rule petition, sponsored by Mayor Walsh which will need State House approval, will allow the City of Boston to establish sub-precincts – and in some instances additional polling locations – in order to alleviate crowds and lines in specific sections of neighborhoods that have experienced significant growth. The impacted neighborhoods are as follows: Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, Downtown, Financial District, South Boston, and the South End. This home rule petition is necessary so that the new sub-precincts and polling locations may be included in the Commonwealth’s Voter Registration Information System (VRIS). At the hearing, the Committee also discussed notification to impacted voters once these changes go into effect. On behalf of the Committee, Councilor Flaherty noted that this home rule petition provides greater efficiency at the polling places by decreasing voter wait times and alleviating over-crowding.
The second legislation is an ordinance, sponsored by Councilor Andrea Campbell and Councilor Michelle Wu, which calls upon the Boston City Council – in partnership with the City of Boston’s Election Department – to conduct a review of city precincts every five years beginning in the year following passage of this ordinance. The review will include information on population shifts, development in neighborhoods, and impact of precinct size on polling locations, staffing, and Election Day operations and other factors as necessary. On behalf of the Committee, Councilor Flaherty underscored that precincts are the building blocks for districts and need to be manageable in size – keeping in mind that taxpayer dollars are used to operate public resources.
“Both pieces of legislation calls for the City of Boston to address data and resources when considering usage of public resources – whether it is Census & redistricting or Election Day operations,” stated Councilor Flaherty. “It is imperative that we implement solutions and practices across the board – and have the proper tools and information to do so – as Boston’s population continues to grow.”