Braintree officials are looking towards upcoming elections with new district lines, as well as provisions to help servicemen and women cast their absentee ballots.
Although there were few changes, the redistricting means that Fifth Norfolk Representative Mark Cusack, a Braintree Democrat, will also represent Precinct 4 in Randolph.
The Fifth Norfolk District previously consisted of the Town of Braintree, Precinct 3 in Randolph, and Precinct 1 in Holbrook. Under the proposed map released Wednesday by the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, Precinct 4 in Randolph was added to the district.
According to a release, “the only real change is that he will now represent Precinct 4 in Randolph, which, due to re-precincting, is about 95% of the former precinct.”
Cusack said it was important that Braintree remain intact in the redistricting process.
“I fought hard to keep Braintree whole and the Fifth Norfolk intact,” Cusack said. “My district shifted slightly due to new lines being drawn up for precincts in Randolph, which went from 8 to 12 precincts. It is an honor serving the 5th Norfolk District and I am glad it is staying geographically similar.”
Overall, Massachusetts' population increased by 3.1 percent.
Both the House and the Senate will vote on the newly drawn maps in upcoming weeks. Cusack expects the governor to approve the documents by Nov. 6 in order for all prospective candidates to establish residency a year before their next election.
Braintree previously saw shifts in the number of precincts in the town in May, after their population boomed six percent from 2000 to 2010.
Approximately 2,800 people in the town were impacted by the process, which shifted some of the precinct boundaries within the town, and renamed the precincts from 1 through 12 to 1A/1B through 6A/6B.
Now, the precinct names better suggest the district boundaries (as each district is made up of two precincts each).
Although the council voted on the adaptations in late May, the renaming and redistricting won’t take effect until the presidential primary election in March 2012. Councilors had to approve the new maps quickly as they needed to be in effect for nomination papers for party Town Committees for August 2011.
According to officials, the new districts won’t come into play until November 2013.
Town Councilors are also looking forward to upcoming elections with the support of House Bill Number 1972.
Currently, under federal law, any absentee ballot must be delivered 45 days prior to an election.
The problem is that Massachusetts’s state primary is 42 days before the election, requiring the state to get a waiver every two years. The solution to the problem is that the voter must send in his or her vote by fax or e-mail.
To do so, the voter was required to sign a statement waving his or her right to a secret ballot.
It’s a concept that is utterly baffling, City Clerk Joe Powers said, and the new bill would move the state primary to the first Tuesday in June.
“That [soldiers] exercise their right they protect [is important]…these men and women are being asked to waive a basic fundamental right that we are never asked to do,” Powers said. “I find it wrong that we would disallow a constitutional and god given right to a secret ballots.”
Councilors unanimously supported the motion at their meeting this past week.