AUGUSTA — Both houses of the Maine Legislature easily passed a new redistricting plan for the bodies on Wednesday, but an independent Knox County lawmaker complained that he was “gerrymandered” under the plan.

On the House floor before the 133-11 vote, members of both parties called the deal a compromise. Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, a member of the redistricting commission that proposed the plan, said it was made through an “excellent process.”

Shortly after that vote, the Senate passed the plan unanimously. The bipartisan redistricting commission approved the maps for Maine’s 186 state House of Representatives and Senate legislative districts unanimously on Friday. The plan now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for approval.

Maine law requires that the maps for the legislative districts maps be updated every decade based on population changes. Based on 2010 Census data, the new plan reflects big changes in Maine’s population distribution. The state’s population centers grew significantly while rural areas lost population.

For instance, population shrank by 3.2 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, from 2000 to 2010 in Washington and Aroostook counties, while it grew in Cumberland County by 6 percent, exceeding the state average of 4.8 percent.

A 2010 guide from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, says only Maine and Connecticut required two-thirds votes by their legislatures to adopt redistricting. Maine was then one of 37 states that gave their legislatures power over redistricting, and one of only five states that appointed commissions to advise lawmakers.

After the commission released the maps Friday, all involved hailed it as a true compromise, where both parties didn’t get all they wanted.

“The maps are fair and consistent with changes in Maine’s population,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, in a Wednesday statement. “We worked to get the job done with the least disruption in legislative districts as possible under the law.”

But on the floor Wednesday, Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, a Friendship independent, was in the minority. He complained that unenrolled members don’t have a say in the redistricting process, saying his district lost approximately 7,000 of its 8,800 residents.

Evangelos’ district, currently comprising Cushing, Friendship, Union and Warren in Knox County, would encompass Friendship, Union, Washington and Waldoboro under the new plan.

“It would have been nice for us to have a seat at the table,” he said. “I can’t support being gerrymandered.”

Michael Shepherd -370-7652
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