AUGUSTA — About 25 people along one side of Riverside Drive will have to vote in a different ward when the boundary line for Augusta’s Ward 3, a ward that is now entirely on the west side of the Kennebec River, crosses the river to the east side.

The change is being made to bring the city into compliance with state regulations.

City officials said state rules require that voting wards be close in population to one another, and Augusta’s wards are out of the acceptable range of population difference, which require the smallest wards to be kept within 10% of the population of the largest. Ward 3 is not within 10% of the population of Ward 4 by nine people.

City councilors said they plan to adopt a proposal by Matt Nazar, the city’s director of development services, which he said would be the simplest way of coming into compliance while impacting the fewest number of residents who will have to switch where they vote — from Ward 4 to Ward 3.

The ward boundary in the northern end of Augusta between Wards 3 and 4 is now the Kennebec River, with Ward 3 entirely on the west side and Ward 4 on the east.

With the proposed change, on which councilors held a first reading and discussion Jan. 19, Ward 3, the city’s smallest ward by population (4,501), would expand across the river and take over part of what is now Ward 4, which has 4,963 residents and is the city’s most populous ward.


That did not sit well with some councilors, who said the change could be confusing, and giving up a boundary as clear and established as the Kennebec River would seem an odd decision. But they agreed to go along with the change to satisfy state rules and because they agreed with Nazar it seems the simplest way to comply with the state’s requirements while impacting the fewest residents.

“I want to do whatever the ward councilors (of those two wards) want to do, but I do think it’s odd to cut the wards on the rivers,” said At-Large Councilor Courtney Gary-Allen. “I just think it’s very odd to cut the river like that.”

The section of now Ward 4 that will become Ward 3 is on the river — or west — side of Riverside Drive, in the area immediately north of where Route 3 crosses the river on the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge, including the Savage Park area at the intersection of Route 3 and Riverside Drive, and north up Riverside Drive to Riggs Brook.

Nazar said Riggs Brook will be part of the new boundary.

After the change, Nazar said, about 25 people now in Ward 4 will be Ward 3 residents. He also said they will be sent a letter from the city notifying them of the change.

“It’s a stable area. The people that live there, I know a lot of them. They don’t do a lot of moving in and out,” said Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind. “So long as they know it’s happening, and they know where to vote and all that.


“I trust the councilor in Ward 3 will take care of them. He probably knows half of them anyway, so I’m not deeply concerned. So, if this complies with the law, it’s the least disruptive way to deal with it, there’s no issue from my perspective.”

Nazar said any changes to ward boundaries must be done by moving entire census tracts, so he looked for tracts on the borders of boundaries with the fewest people living in them. Census tracts are small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Ward 3 Councilor Mike Michaud agreed it seemed like the least invasive way to comply with state population requirements, which Nazar said are based on the 2020 Census. Nazar said the boundaries should be able to remain until the results of the 2030 census come out.

Nazar said other, more complicated options would involve moving the boundaries between all four wards, where they meet in the downtown area. He said that could better balance populations between all the wards, bringing them each to about 4,700 people. But he said that would have impacted many people in all four wards.

The most recent polling locations for those wards were Augusta Civic Center for Ward 3 and Cony High School for Ward 4.

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