HAVERHILL — Some Haverhill residents can expect to be voting at a new location as some wards and precincts are being adjusted.
Michael Owens, re-precincting community engagement director for State Secretary William Galvin’s office, told the City Council at its Dec. 14 meeting about the changes that came about due to a population increase in Haverhill.
Owens told the council that it needed to vote on the new map by Dec. 14, and if it didn’t, the state would assign a cartographer — someone who makes maps — and charge the city for those services, and the city would end up with the same map.
Councilors voted 8-1 to accept the map. Councilor Joseph Bevilacqua voted against accepting the new map.
Based on the latest 10-year U.S. Census, the city grew by nearly 7,000 people and now totals about 67,787 residents, for an increase of about 10%, Owens said.
The new map created by the state legislature includes new eight sub-precincts, which Owens defined as “precincts within precincts.”
City Clerk Linda Koutoulas said the House and Senate submitted their own maps to show what they wanted in their legislative district, resulting in Haverhill going from four state representatives to two. The new Senate map splits Haverhill into two Senate districts instead of one.
She said voters in Haverhill will be notified in advance of where they will vote starting with the state elections next fall. The new map is posted on the city clerk’s website.
“Voters will be receiving information in their city census, which will be mailed to residents at the beginning of the year,” she said. “The worst part of this is that the maps created several sub precincts, but voters will get the correct ballots and will be told where they will vote.”
She said the changes will require the purchase of new voting tabulation machines that can decipher multiple ballots and interpret different candidate races.
Council President Melinda Barrett pointed out that Haverhill’s legislators and the secretary of state were opposed to the new map.
Councilor Timothy Jordan said he was disappointed the city didn’t have a chance to comment before the map was created.
“They gutted our district and completely took away the potential power Haverhill had,” Jordan said in reference to a change in the Senate district.
Officials in Haverhill have been outspoken against the redrawn boundaries, which split their community to create a new majority-minority Senate district with Lawrence and Methuen, while the rest of the city will be grouped with Merrimac, North Andover, Andover, Wilmington and Tewksbury.
Meg McIntyre, Special to the State House News Service, contributed to this story.