Rhode Island panel OKs voting maps with last-minute change

The Rhode Island State House. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A panel voted Wednesday to approve new voting districts for the state legislature and congressional seats in Rhode Island, with a last-minute change.

The Redistricting Committee voted 13-4 to approve new district maps for state House and Senate seats, The Providence Journal reported. It voted 15-2 to approve new congressional maps.

A change to the House districts in East Greenwich stirred passionate debate for weeks, prompting mapmakers to draw an adjustment before the vote, the newspaper reported. But a change to the border of Senate districts that had tracked along the town line between Smithfield and Lincoln was made shortly before the meeting without the same discourse.

“The changes came in at 530 (p.m.) and the meeting started at 5:35,” Sen. Gordon Rogers said. “We basically took an oath to be transparent and open and have a fair process and I would hate to see it tainted.”

The new maps also incorporate a change the panel approved last week that will count about 1,000 inmates at the Adult Correctional Institute at their former addresses, rather than as residents of Cranston, where the prison is located.

The maps next go to the General Assembly, where they could be changed again, the newspaper reported.