This week, Governor Sununu vetoed HB 1665 which would establish an independent redistricting commission. The bill had bipartisan sponsorship and support. In his veto message, Sununu stated that “…we should take pride that issues of gerrymandering are rare.” Unfortunately, that is not true. The most obvious example of the type of gerrymandering that took place during the last redistricting (following the 2010 census) is the shape of Executive Council District 2. In fact, it is eerily similar in shape to the 1812 State Senate district in Massachusetts which sought to favor the Democratic – Republican candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists and gave birth to the term “gerrymandering.” (Federalist newspaper editors and others likened the shape to a salamander and the term “Gerry-mander” was coined.)
One of the most unfair redistricting stratagems during House redistricting following the 2010 census was the lumping together of the populations of Hudson (24,467) and Pelham (12,897) into a single district. Given Pelham’s population, the town should have been assigned three state representative seats and shared a fourth seat in a floterial district. By incorporating Pelham’s population with that of Hudson, the Legislature created a 10-member district and those seats have been mostly occupied by Hudson residents — not surprising since Hudson’s population outnumbers Pelham’s population by almost two-to-one. (Currently, nine of the state representatives from this district are Hudson residents, and one is from Pelham.)
Representative Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), prime sponsor of the legislation, said in response to the Governor’s veto: “Granite Staters of all political stripes have made their opposition to partisan redistricting well known, and for the governor to again ignore their pleas for fairness in elections is extremely disappointing.”
I voted in favor of HB1665 and will continue to support independent redistricting.