By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – With 29 days left before they must vote on a series of redistricting bills, a House Special Committee on Redistricting met at the Legislative Office Building Wednesday to discuss their progress and look over some of the first drafts of maps that the committee will consider.
Republican State Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, distributed draft maps she worked on for Grafton, Merrimack, and Belknap County House Districts and gave some rationale for the approach she took to draw them up. Many more possible maps will be considered by the committee before they vote.
They set out a timeline that will allow for two public input sessions before they make a final vote on the maps which will determine all voting districts, as is required to be redrawn every 10 years.
State Rep. Barbara Griffin, R-Goffstown, who chairs the committee, said she had concerns about safety for night committee meetings and she refused to allow into the committee record a letter by more than 25 members of the state medical community pleading with the House Speaker and Senate President to offer remote options for testimony and participation in legislative meetings.
During public listening sessions held with Senate counterparts in all 10 counties this fall, members of the public have stressed their interest in seeing the proposed maps to comment on them before the vote.
Maps will be submitted to staff at least 24 hours before the Nov. 3 meeting and will be published on the House website.http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/committee_websites/Redistricting_2021/default.aspx
Before the meeting, protesters stood outside the Legislative Office Building reading, “We the People Demand Transparency,” and “Fair Elections require Fair Maps.”
Liz-Anne Platt of Concord was holding a sign that says: “Show Us the MAPS.”
“We are supporting New Hampshire citizens’ rights to have their votes matter and to avoid ridiculous gerrymandering that the GOP endorses. Because that is not how you have free and fair elections. And I am sorry I don’t mean to speak so vehemently about Republicans but time and time and again they have shown us who they are. But we are standing here for all New Hampshire citizens for free and fair maps,” Platt said.
After the meeting, Louise Spencer of Concord, one of the leaders of the Kent Street Coalition, said there was some progress made during the meeting to allow for two public input sessions prior to the vote but still questions remain about who on the committee will be assigned to drafting various redistricting maps. The Senate has a comparable redistricting committee.
Democratic State Rep. Matt Wilhelm, D-Manchester, said he was very pleased there would be two opportunities for the public to provide input and he hoped that one could be in the evening, and one could be somewhere other than the State House.