The Bulletin Board

Listening sessions on redistricting set to begin next week

By: - September 9, 2021 1:28 pm
The state house as viewed through a stone arch

Supporters of the bill had portrayed it as a means to increase housing stock in towns and cities without large apartment complexes that tend to draw controversy. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

New Hampshire’s House and Senate redistricting committees will hold their first joint listening session in Concord next week, part of a series of weekly meetings to hear resident input on how to draw the next decade’s political map.

According to the two chambers’ digital calendars, the meeting will be held Sept. 14 at the Old County Courthouse on 5 Court Street in Concord. 

The meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., will allow attendees to raise issues and voice preferences and priorities when it comes to drawing the lines for state House, Senate, Executive Council, and U.S. House districts. 

It will be followed by a Sept. 22 meeting at the Strafford County Courthouse in Dover and a Sept. 30 meeting at St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, both at 6 p.m, according to the digital calendar.

The New Hampshire Constitution requires the Legislature to redraw the political lines every 10 years after the release of the U.S. Census. Under the two committees’ schedule, the committees will hold meetings in each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties before beginning to draw the maps themselves.

But some transparency advocates have raised concerns that the public input meeting schedule has not been well-publicized. As of Thursday morning, the official webpage for the House Committee on Redistricting had not been updated to reflect the meeting locations; the current placement on the House and Senate digital calendars makes them difficult for observers to find. 

“What we’re so upset about is they’re trying to pull this off with, at this point, five days of notice,” said Brian Biehl, deputy director of Open Democracy, which has been critical of the House redistricting process. 

It is not yet clear whether the meetings will be live-streamed and whether residents will be allowed to participate remotely. A spokesperson for the House was not immediately available for comment.

Past meetings have been live-streamed and posted online after the fact, but lawmakers interested in participating have been required to show up in person. That’s prompted criticism from Democrats, including Rep. David Cote, the former chairman of the House Election Law Committee and a member of the redistricting committee, who is immunocompromised and can’t attend in-person meetings.

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel. Email: [email protected]