Support an end to gerrymandering in Maryland!

“Gerrymander: to divide a territorial unit into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the voting strength of the opposition in as few districts as possible.”

Maryland draws new congressional and legislative districts every 10 years, updating the maps to reflect population changes. District maps are supposed to advance the ideal of “one person, one vote,” but Maryland ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to the compactness of its new congressional districts. 

Maryland’s current plan has been called “comically gerrymandered.” Critics have called the Maryland map “highly partisan and racially charged,” questioning how a Congressman could fairly and accurately represent a district that “slices and dices counties, communities and neighborhoods”. And one pundit has observed that the legislative districts look like they were drawn “by an over-caffeinated child with a paint gun.”

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Common Cause Maryland and the League of Women Voters of Maryland have advocated for reform to our broken system for many decades. The current maps are drawn by political insiders behind closed doors, with no opportunity for meaningful public input and no standards to ensure our Congressional districts respect community lines. This broken process can only hope to produce a broken map.

Other states have already taken action to fix their process. Arizona and California have established independent commissions. Florida has required compactness standards and prohibited drawing districts for partisan advantage. Iowa draws maps without regard to voter party affiliation or where incumbents live.

Marylander must take action too! We deserve better than tortured Congressional districts and legislative districts that cut across county lines. We deserve a process that is in the hands of independent thinkers, not the politicians. And we deserve a map that leaves communities intact and fairly represented.

Governor Hogan has taken the first step towards reform. He has created a study commission to recommend an independent process for drawing district lines. The study commission is holding a series of public hearings and will release its recommendations in early November. The Governor has pledged to turn that recommendation into a Constitutional Amendment that would be sent to the legislature in January and, if passed, appear on the ballot next November.

Maryland’s broken process is more than a partisan issue. It’s about fairness: allowing our communities and counties fair representation; allowing our voters fair opportunities to choose who represents them; allowing candidates and elected officials a fair chance to know and understand their district. Maryland’s citizens deserve fairness, and they deserve action. We cannot wait for a national solution – we must follow other states and advance reform here and now.

Please come to a public hearing and ask our leaders to act.

WHAT: Public Meeting #2 of Maryland’s Redistricting Commission

DATE: Monday, September 21, 2015

TIME: 1:00 pm

WHERE:

Hagerstown Community College
11400 Robinwood Drive
Hagerstown, Maryland 21742

Career Programs Building, Room 21

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Public Meeting #2 EVENT page on Facebook


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Tell Governor Hogan: Tame the Gerrymander!

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Frederick News Post Editorial
‘Gerrymandering is a political crime because it is meant to rig elections’
September 28, 2014

EXCERPT: Maryland’s 3rd District also has the distinction, make that shame, of being the second or third most gerrymandered congressional district in the nation, depending on whose list you use. The entire state of Maryland is also high on the list of most-gerrymandered states.

Last Sunday’s Washington Post reported on a protest concerning this subject. Political activists jogged, biked and boated for 225 miles around Maryland’s 3rd District in at effort to call attention to its tortured configuration and the egregiously political process that shaped it. This protest was yet another indication that gerrymandering has become unacceptable to many, and that its demise would be extremely positive for the future of American democracy and electoral integrity.

AND: Maryland is not alone in drawing politically biased congressional district maps. It has plenty of company among both Democratic- and Republican-controlled states. However, a number of other states have gotten out of the gerrymandering game and established independent panels to create new voting districts.

Maryland should join them as a matter of fairness and respect for the rights of voters. Simply put, gerrymandering is a disgraceful, anti-democratic power grab that disempowers voters.

AND: This is not an insoluble issue. As we said, many states have already gotten the politics out of their redistricting process. The national study that Delaney has proposed is a good starting point to bring the rest of the states into the fold. If a study can come up with some viable suggestions that both Democrats and Republicans could live with, there is a chance the playing field among the 50 states can be leveled, with each using a similar impartial method to redraw congressional election districts after every decennial national census.

AND: Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews, a Democrat, says, “Gerrymandering is a political crime because it is meant to rig elections.” Let’s stop doing that in Maryland, and vigorously support efforts to create standards that promote uniformity and fairness throughout the land.

Frederick News Post
Hogan calls for redistricting reform
February 10, 2015

EXCERPT: Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that he will establish, by executive order, a bipartisan commission to explore ways to reform Maryland’s disgraceful and undemocratic redistricting process. The goal is to create an independent, bipartisan commission to handle this important task.

Of course, it would be to Hogan’s and Maryland Republicans’ political benefit to replace the current partisan system, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. The highly prejudicial redistricting process that Maryland uses is an embarrassment to the Free State and needs to be replaced by an independent commission before the next U.S. Census in 2020.

This newspaper has editorialized numerous times on the inappropriate way that Maryland creates its congressional election districts. We support Hogan’s call for reformation of this blatantly partisan tradition. Getting rid of Maryland’s politically biased redistricting system is the right and fair thing to do for voters and the electoral process.

AND: We look forward to following the work of the commission and seeing what recommendations it comes up with. We look even more forward to a new election district map being drawn after the 2020 Census — a map we hope will be free of districts that resemble “blood spatter” or a “broken-winged pterodactyl.”

Maryland residents deserve to have their votes count. They also deserve to have an election process that they can believe in and support. Establishing an independent redistricting commission will help accomplish both of those important goals.

Press Release
Response from League of Women Voters Maryland and Common Cause Maryland on Governor Hogan’s Commission to Study Redistricting Reform
August 6, 2015

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Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission

Congressional and Legislative Districts

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