Tag: gerrymander

One More Potential Referendum for Maryland Voters: Congressional Districts

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Maryland's congressional district map, basically

In November, in addition to choosing the president of the United States, Maryland voters will have plenty to decide. The controversial Maryland Dream Act has already been placed on the ballot; gay marriage almost definitely will join it; and now it looks like our state’s absurdly gerrymandered congressional districts may be next.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, the visionary Republican signature-driver that put the Dream Act on the ballot — and got his party psyched about the referendum as a viable political tool — has begun a petition to let voters decide if they want to keep their congressional map looking like a jigsaw puzzle for the criminally insane, or reject it. His petition carries the compelling slogan, “DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO YOU?”

If Parrott gathers 55,736 valid signatures by June 30, it will be on the ballot in November. If voters reject the current congressional districts either the legislature or the courts would need to redraw them, and they would take effect in 2014.

Some of you may be wondering, for all the hoopla, how bad Maryland’s congressional districts really are — compared to the other states, say. Bad. Maryland’s 2nd and 3rd made it onto Slate’s picture gallery of the 21 most gerrymandered congressional districts in the country in December 2011.

Nine Bills Attempt to Amend Maryland’s Redistricting Process; None Likely to Pass

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Apparently, the splattery spiral that is Maryland’s Congressional district map has finally ruffled enough feathers since its acceptance in November that lawmakers have introduced nine separate bills that alter the redistricting process to make it less likely for us to end up with such an absolutely embarrassing map.

And it’s not just Republicans, the biggest losers under the new Congressional and legislative districts, who have had enough of unchecked gerrymandering in the state. Sen. Jim Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, is sponsoring three of the bills even though his district has been redrawn in his favor. “I don’t think the politicians should be choosing their voters,” Brochin told Maryland Reporter. “The voters should choose their politicians.”

Gerrymandering Not Totally a Sure Thing

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If only they had made it blacklight-sensitive...

Late last year, Maryland’s already wonky Congressional district map was made positively psychedelic when it was redrawn to choke out one of the two Republicans in Maryland’s portion of the House of Representatives. But according to the Washington Post, not only was the gerrymandered sixth district intended to give a boost to the absolutely not-in-need-of-a-boost Democratic party, it was actually intended to favor one particular Democrat for the previously Republican seat.

Proving that gerrymandering is still more of an art than a science — and that we don’t exactly appoint our representatives — state Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola will not simply wake up one day to find himself in the House of Representatives. He will have to face a real contest after all, and from a fellow Democrat, John Delaney, whose Montgomery County home was deliberately excluded from the new sixth district. Apparently, there is no law requiring candidates to actually live in the district they aim to represent, so Delaney is running anyway, and the race for the Democratic nomination is wide open.

Now, I don’t really have a dog in the fight, but I get some small amount of satisfaction from political gamesmanship not quite panning out. I think if I lived in the sixth district, I wouldn’t vote for either Democratic frontrunner; I would try to write in a vote for no more gerrymandering.

Partisan Politics Wins Out Over Conscience for O’Malley’s Gerrymander

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Gov. O’Malley’s Congressional redistricting map, plainly gerrymandered to increase the number of Democratic delegates Maryland sends to the House of Representatives from six to seven (decreasing the number of Republicans from two to one), was approved by the Maryland House of Delegates and is off to the Senate this morning where it is expected to be approved without incident.

Despite the well-founded objections of Republicans, principled Democrats, and minority groups (who may also see their voting influence diluted by the swirly map) the plan passed 91 to 46, which means that except for two Democrats who voted “no,” it was a purely partisan vote.

According to an article in The Sun, the implicit argument in favor of O’Malley’s plan is that Republicans will be making similar moves in states where they control the process.

But the idea that Maryland needs to disempower its conservative voters (and minorities along the way) because other states are moving to disempower their liberal voters is absurd. Our governor and House of Delegates should understand that they are in office to serve their constituents (and for O’Malley that includes our state’s Republican voters), not to score points in some national partisan chess game.

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