NAPLES – Redistricting season is upon us.

Article I Section II of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that in each decade a nationwide census be taken and the seats of the U.S. Congress be apportioned among the states based on that census. The requirement underpins the contentious process of representative democracy.

A cherished entitlement captured by three words, “We the people,” sets forth in unmistakable terms the citizenry’s shared right and obligation to collectively bargain in good faith — as equals. Representative redistricting is part of that process.

Many of Maine’s representative districts — congressional, legislative, municipal, county and other single member district plans — must be redrawn by 2013 based on the 2010 Census so that each seat represents an equally populated district.

That legally mandated deadline is being challenged in court: “Too late,” the plaintiffs argue, and I agree.

Maine’s existing congressional, state legislative, county, municipal single member districts should be redrawn prior to the 2012 election in order to ensure fairness. Case in point: The upcoming special election in Maine Senate District 7.

The District 7 race (Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, and part of Scarborough) features Republican firefighter Louis Maietta and Democratic House member Cynthia Dill vying for the seat that Senate Democrat Lawrence Bliss left in April for a great job in California. Bliss won the seat by a mere 75 votes.

According to 2010 Census figures, Senate District 7 is 297 persons shy of a perfect population of 37,953 — a deviation of 0.7 percent, well within the required plus or minus 5 percent.

That means everything’s fine right? Nope.

Adjacent District 6 (Gorham, parts of Scarborough and Westbrook) is overpopulated by 2,659 persons or 7.01 percent.

District 6 needs to lose at least 760 persons to come into compliance with state and federal law. Those 760 people have to go somewhere, and since town boundaries are respected wherever possible under Maine redistricting law, those 760 persons will likely be moved from District 6 into District 7 and/or District 9 (parts of Westbrook and Portland).

Why? Because Westbrook and Scarborough boundaries are already split and Districts 7 and 9 are populated such that they can both absorb more than 760 persons and stay legal.

Why is this important? Because voters in the current District 6 have less voting strength in the Maine Senate than voters in Districts 7 and 9 (and many other districts in the state for that matter) because District 6 is overpopulated.

Scarborough is the fastest growing of the 10 most populous municipalities in Maine, up by 141 percent from 1970.

Of the 19 communities in Maine with populations greater than 10,000 persons, Scarborough is the second fastest growing, behind Windham. Gorham is the fourth and Westbrook the 10th fastest growing.

Voters in the fastest growing areas of the state are entitled to elected officials inclined to act on their behalf on important public policy matters such as adequate state funding for public schools, thoughtful planning and sustainable economic development. Quality public schools, sensible planning and growth management create better jobs faster than the opposite.

The term “gerrymandering” is often thrown around to suggest there is something wrong with redistricting.

Old-school techniques like incumbent gerrymandering, partisan gerrymandering, racial gerrymandering and prison gerrymandering are facing competition from new “fairer” methods.

I submit that there’s always an agenda, whatever redistricting method you use, and someone will complain of gerrymandering.

The difference between a “fair plan” and an “unfair plan” is a matter of perspective.

But a fair plan has to at least be equally populated and contiguous.

Any way you cut it, Maine’s current House and Senate plans are not fair because they are unequally apportioned.

People representing various geographically contiguous “communities of interest,” have a right and duty to see our joint interests represented in the fair drawing of district lines prior to elections.

The seats of political office belong to the people and are not the sole province of political parties, incumbents or arbitrary legislative deadlines.

If you want quality public schools, begin by ensuring that political district lines are drawn to enhance the voting strength of parents with children in those schools.

If you want quality elder care, draw lines to enhance the voting strength of the elderly.

If you want to keep school districts out of your wallet, draw lines that enhance the voting strength of people with the entitlements of wealth.

The point is they are our districts, let’s start drawing the lines.