People might call it the “off-year,” but the 2011 elections were a big success. In Boston, about 20,000 more people came to the polls this year compared to 2007, an increase of 4 percent.
And in our New England sister state of Maine, we won big. In a counter-attack on the “War on Voting,” the people of Maine voted nearly 60-40 to keep Election Day Registration so that every Mainer can exercise their right to vote.
At the same time, MassVOTE’s work for people-powered redistricting made unprecedented gains. Ten years ago, redistricting was a fiasco — the Statehouse plan actually reduced the number of majority-people of color districts, and MassVOTE and allies had to sue to undo the damage.
This year, working with ¿Oisté?, Common Cause and our partners in the Drawing Democracy coalition, there was a night-and-day difference. The number of majority-people of color districts in the Statehouse doubled from 10 to 20 and went up in the state Senate from two to three.
Just as importantly, the new maps make sense. If you look at them online, you’ll see boundaries that keep communities together. And the Legislature’s 13 hearings around the state and two-week comment period on the final maps were a breath of fresh air and openness in a process that is far too often closed.
These victories are thanks to you. It was you coming out to vote. It was you getting your friends to vote with reminder calls, text and e-mails. It was you getting your community out by knocking on doors and doing standouts. It was you joining our caravan to Maine. It was you showing up for redistricting meetings and sending in your comments and concerns online. Your donations also kept the lights on.
I know this “off-year” was just a practice run for the presidential and senatorial races of 2012 and that the efforts to suppress voters will be more intense then ever in 2012. But if we continue to have people like you fighting the good fight, 2012 is going to be a great year.