Beginning this year, a new system, referred to as a district and at-large “hybrid” system, will be in place for the election of members of the Lowell City Council and School Committee. The new system, created under the terms of a federal consent decree, replaces the City’s prior “at-large” system. The City Council voted to adopt the “hybrid” system in November 2019 after Lowell voters expressed a preference for the system on the November 5, 2019 municipal election ballot.
Under the new system, the City Council will be expanded from nine to eleven members. The City has been divided into eight districts, and each district will elect one member to the Council. Three City Councilors will be elected at-large by voters from the whole City. For School Committee elections, there will be four districts created by combining the eight City Council districts into groups of two. Each School Committee district will elect one member, and two School Committee members will be elected at-large by voters from the whole City.
The City retained voting rights expert Dr. Nathaniel Persily to draw district boundaries in accordance with the terms of the federal consent decree. Districts were required to contain approximately the same number of registered voters, and two districts were required to be majority minority, where Asian-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos together comprise a majority of the citizen voting age population.
The map that will be used in the 2021 Municipal Election was finalized in February 2021. Districts 6 and 7 are the City’s two majority minority districts.
To view a larger-scale, searchable district map, visit: LOWELLMA.GOV/FINDMYDISTRICT
School Committee districts are formed by combining pairs of the eight new City Council districts.School Committee District 1 is comprised of Districts 1 & 8School Committee District 2 is comprised of Districts 4 & 2School Committee District 3 is comprised of Districts 3 & 5School Committee District 4 is comprised of Districts 6 & 7
Unlike previous municipal elections in which voters selected up to nine candidates for City Council and up to six candidates for School Committee, voters will now select district and at-large candidates in separate categories for both positions. Each voter will select up to three at-large City Council candidates and one district City Council candidate on their ballot, and up to 2 at-large School Committee candidates and 1 district School Committee candidate.
2021 Municipal Election ballots will also contain one (1) ballot question relative to the method of electing the Mayor (see reverse for additional information).
Due to the changes in the election system and the creation of districts, many voters will have new polling locations for this year’s election. All registered voters were recently mailed a postcard informing them of their polling location for the 2021 Municipal Election. To verify your polling location online, visit: lowellma.gov/pollinglocations or wheredoivotema.com.
Under a state law passed in July 2021, voting by mail and early voting will be allowed in the 2021 Municipal Election. You do not need to have an excuse to vote by mail, however you must complete a 2021 vote by mail application and return it to the Election Office in order to receive an mail-in ballot. For complete instructions on how to request and submit a mail-in ballot, including key deadlines, visit: lowellma.gov/votebymail or call the Election & Census Office at 978-674-4046.
In-person early voting will be held before the Preliminary and final Municipal election. For a schedule of early voting opportunities, visit: lowellma.gov/voteearly.
SUMMARYThe Mayor of the City of Lowell is currently chosen from among the newly-elected City Councilors by a vote of the City Council upon their inauguration. This non-binding ballot question seeks input from voters about whether they would prefer to directly elect the mayor themselves when they cast their ballot for the City Council.
WHAT DOES YOUR VOTE MEAN?A YES vote is a vote to change the current system so that voters would elect the Mayor at the time they vote for City Council members, rather than the City Council voting to elect the Mayor from among its members. This change would take effect for the 2023 Municipal Election.
A NO vote would maintain the current system, in which the members of the City Council elect the Mayor.