Voters cast ballots in November 2021 at the Buker Center in Augusta. Councilors recently approved a proposal to change the city’s ward boundaries. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — In a 5-3 vote, city councilors recently approved a proposal to move the boundary line between wards 3 and 4 to bring them closer in population to each other and come into compliance with state regulations.

The change would bring some of Ward 3 across the Kennebec River into territory that has been part of Ward 4.

Councilors who voted against it favored an alternative proposal that would better balance the populations of all four wards while also making each of those wards wholly within one of either of the city’s two state House of Representatives districts.

That would mean voters in Ward 2, most of whom now are in House District 60 but some of whom are in House District 59, would all be in the same house district, as would voters in Ward 3, where most residents now are in House District 59 but some are in House District 60. That would consolidate polling places, as all voters in those wards would be voting in the same House district, not two different ones depending upon where they live in the ward.

It would result in Augusta having four wards of similar populations, with two wards, 1 and 3, on the east side of the Kennebec River and wholly within House District 59, and two other wards, 2 and 4, on the west side of the river and wholly within House District 60.

But it would also mean a lot more people would have to vote in different polling locations, as about 835 people would be moved from their current ward to a different ward under the proposal offered recently by Kevin Lamoreau, an at-large Augusta Board of Education member with a passion for looking at the numbers behind political boundaries and elections.


Only 25 people will switch wards under the proposal approved by councilors last week.

Some councilors voting for that proposal said they did so despite agreeing Lamoreau’s proposal would be a more logical way of aligning districts and better balance the populations of all four wards. But they said the other change, only changing where 25 residents vote, was preferable for now, versus changing where 835 people vote.

“I really like this, and there is something compelling about it, there is something attractive about having it line up with the legislative districts,” said Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti, who voted for moving the line between wards 3 and 4. “But there’s also something attractive about having a simple plan that affects 25 people.”

At-Large Councilor Courtney Gary-Allen, one of the three votes against the city staff-proposed plan, along with fellow at-large councilors Abigail St. Valle and Stephanie Sienkiewicz, said Lamoreau’s proposal, while requiring more voters to switch where they vote now, makes more sense long-term. And would make it easier for residents to know who their ward representative is on the council and who represents them in the Maine House of Representatives.

“I think that, while (Lamoreau’s proposal) does move more people than the plan before us right now, I think in the long run to have (wards) within the state districts, is actually an easier way to explain to people how they can figure out who their ward person is, and also who their state representative is,” Gary-Allen said at the Thursday council meeting at which councilors approved the staff-recommended plan.

Matt Nazar, city development director, previously acknowledged there were more complicated ways of redistricting the city’s wards which would bring all four of them closer to each other in population. But he said all those options would require many more people to change where they vote, compared to his proposal to move the line between wards 3 and 4, which he said would only change where 25 people vote.


Lamoreau agreed that is a concern but said he still thought his proposal would be a better way to reconfigure the wards. He said it would be more convenient for Augusta to have two wards in each of its two House districts. Poll workers would then no longer have to determine, at ward polling places, which House district each voter belonged to, because they would all be in the same district.

“There may be less confusion once the dust settles, and you have two house districts and four wards, two wards in the west side district and two wards in the east side district,” he said.

However a majority of councilors favored the other proposal, with some noting today’s climate in which people are suspicious of any voting-related changes, could be a bad time to make a more significant change.

“My concern is voter confusion. I think people might become frustrated, people have kind of figured out where they are now,” Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind said. “Staff came up with a proposal to move 25 (people to a different ward). This moves 835 people. I just think it’s too disruptive right now, given current events.”

A change was necessary to bring the city into compliance with state rules which require the smallest wards in municipalities to be kept within 10% of the population of the largest. Ward 3, with a population of 4,501, was not within 10% of the population of Ward 4, which has 4,963 residents, by nine people.

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