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Posted on: February 17, 2021

New Election Districts Set, Will Not be Adjusted Based on US Census Data

Election Districts Set Graphic

Lowell Election Districts Set, Will Not be Adjusted Based on U.S. Census Data


LOWELL, MA – City of Lowell voting rights expert Dr. Nathaniel Persily has announced that the previously released election district map will be implemented as proposed for the 2021 municipal election and will not be adjusted based on 2020 U.S. Census data. The decision comes following the Census Bureau’s announcement that 2020 Census data will not be released until September 31, 2021, a significantly delayed timeline that would prevent the data from being used to determine the final district boundaries as initially anticipated.  


The final district map can be viewed online at along with additional tools released by the City to enhance the community’s familiarity with the new districts, including a searchable map and by-address district directory. 


The adoption of a final district map marks a critical development in the City’s implementation of a new, district and at-large “hybrid” election system, set to take effect for all municipal elections beginning this year. Under the system, each of the City’s eight, newly-defined districts will elect one member to the City Council, and three Councilors will be elected at-large.


The newly released map is drawn according to the conditions of the consent decree which established terms of settlement of a 2017 lawsuit challenging the City’s existing election system under the Voting Rights Act. The decree establishes that the eight districts contain approximately the same number of registered voters, and that two of the districts must be majority minority, where Asian-American residents and Hispanic/Latino residents together comprise a majority of the citizen voting age population. Factors including existing census data, voter registration data, and the boundaries of historically recognized Lowell neighborhoods were considered in the process by which Dr. Persily, who was hired by the City to oversee the districting effort, drew the district boundaries.  


The consent decree calls for final districts to be drawn following the release of 2020 U.S. data, but allows for preliminary districts to be adopted as final districts if there is a delay in accessing the results of the 2020 Census, or if the City determines that it is not administratively possible to determine the final districts using 2020 Census data in time for the 2021 municipal election.

Under to the City of Lowell’s 2021 election calendar released by the Election & Census Office and approved by the Office of Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, candidate nomination papers will be released on June 1 and must be submitted to the Election Commission by August 3, 2021. The need to have districts finalized in advance of these critical deadlines compelled the decision to proceed without Census data given unanticipated delays in its accessibility.  


"Although we had hoped to receive data from the Census so that the lines could be updated prior to the 2021 elections, Census delays due to COVID require that elections be conducted under this preliminary map,” said Dr. Nathaniel Persily.  “The map complies with one person, one vote according to the 2010 Census, and satisfies the requirements of the Voting Rights Act as set forth in the settlement between the plaintiffs and the City of Lowell.  The involvement of the community, the plaintiffs, and the Council led to a process in which all stakeholders could have their views taken into account in the creation of the map.  The process represents a model for the country as we enter the 2021 redistricting cycle."


“The election districts that will be implemented were drawn by Dr. Persily according to a high standard of precision and fully meet the conditions set forth in the consent decree,” said City Solicitor Christine O’Connor. “While it was originally intended that district boundaries would be adjusted when 2020 Census data became available, the delayed timeline for its release has made doing so infeasible. Nevertheless, based on the thorough process that went into the development of the map, we are confident that the districts reflect an accurate representation of the City and its population.”

Related Resources

Searchable map of new election districts
List of Streets by District

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