New map of 6th District (copy)

This map submitted by a national redistricting enthusiast was selected by the governor’s Emergency Commission on Sixth District Gerrymandering as the way to redraw Maryland’s 6th and 8th congressional districts ahead of the 2020 election.

ANNAPOLIS — With just one day left in the 2019 legislative session, it is all but guaranteed that a bill defining new boundaries for the 6th and 8th congressional districts will not pass.

Frederick County was divided in half by the General Assembly in 2011 during statewide redistricting, which broke from historical precedent of keeping western Maryland, Frederick County and Carroll County in the 6th District. Seven residents — including three from Frederick County — sued the state in 2017 for using partisan gerrymandering to dilute Republican votes.

The lawsuit has reached the U.S. Supreme Court twice — the latest trip on March 26 — and a federal panel of judges ordered the state late last year to redraw its 6th District ahead of the 2020 election.

“The voters should get to choose their representatives, not the other way around. So it is just ludicrous that our legislators won’t even allow so much as a public hearing on the governor’s legislation,” Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said by email on Friday.

Emergency legislation to define new boundaries for the 6th and 8th congressional districts was submitted on March 28, after the governor-appointed Emergency Commission on 6th District Gerrymandering completed a multi-month process to redraw the map without regard to the voting demographics of western Maryland.

The emergency commission submitted a report on Tuesday to the governor explaining its rationale on how it redrew the 6th District. As proposed the 6th District would encompass western Maryland, Frederick County, southern Carroll County and northwest Montgomery County.

“Last week we submitted to you a map that we are confident achieves much greater compactness and keeps communities together in a far better fashion than the old. At hearings the public expressed thanks for our efforts and found the proposed lines both fairer and more practical than the old,” commission co-chairs Walter Olson (R) and retired Judge Alexander Williams Jr. (D) said in a letter to Hogan at the start of the report.

Bills in the state Senate and House to redefine the 6th and 8th districts were each procedurally assigned to the rules committees. As of Saturday, neither committee had opted to vote on the bills.

Comprehensive nonpartisan redistricting reforms submitted by Hogan at the start of session also laid fallow throughout the 2019 session. The Senate took no substantial steps to advance the reforms, and the House committee assigned to the bills voted against them.

A special session could be called later this year to consider the map again, after the U.S. Supreme Court releases its response to the case.

“This is the professional politicians looking out for themselves while depriving Marylanders of free and fair elections, and it’s gone on for far too long,” Ricci said.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(9) comments

CDReid

Yep once again the little blue ones down in Smurfville get their way. And that's exactly the problem with this once great state.

DickD

CD, if you want your own way, N. Carolina will give it to you, same as Maryland, except the discrimination favors Republicans.

All gerrymandering needs to be stopped, not just the great State of Maryland.

pappyjoe

Dick CD won`t have to move all the way to North Carolina in accomplishing his idea of fairness. In 2 shakes of a lambs tail he can move to West Virginia were they offer better perks than North Carolina such as being able to carry a non-concealed weapon with nothing more then their State driver license in you wallet and law enforcement looking the other way after hearing a sensible explanation like, being a dim for the reason way the discharge was necessary.

girlpolitic

2011 Redistricting was a travesty. The true hero(s) are the folks that filed the lawsuit challenging that redistricting plan. I was excited when the court ruled in November that the map, regarding the 6th as unconstitutional and when Gov Hogan began to take action moving forward. At first I could not understand why AG Frosh would appeal. In the accessing the totality of the circumstances outcome; the Governor, the Emergency Commission and Western Maryland residents should be grateful he did. When the AG filed the action it stayed the court's directive for the State to redraw the map or the USDC would. The Emergency Commission's performance proved they were incapable of performing in a fashion which could have complied with the timeline established by the US District Court of Maryland. Additionally, it advanced the case to the SCOTUS for the ultimate decision. I will put my trust in the Court for drawing the new map. We will all be better represented with the USDC drawing the map if SCOTUS affirms the the lower court's ruling. Never, in a million years, would I have imagined saying this; "Thank You" to the members of the Maryland General Assembly for not voting on the current map and to the AG for filing the appeal. We are deserving of a better process than what we received.

DickD

Gerrymandering should not be allowed, it is a national, not a state problem.  The only way this is going to be resolved is for the SCOTUS to make a ruling.  Without that happening any state will follow their political whims, which is what happened in Maryland.  The Governor appointing a commission was nothing more than a wish that he hoped to accomplish, without realizing the goal could never be accomplished.  Sure, there were an even number of Republicans and Democrats on the Governor's committee, but if you look at the State legislature it is overwhelmingly Democrat.  No state legislature will allow a minority party to control the state legislature rule on districts, without a national ruling that does not allow politics to dictate.

MrSniper

Can someone please explain to me why the non gerrymandered map looks gerrymandered?

dcmetro

I thought the same thing when I looked at the map. Districts 2, 3, 4, and 7 are heavily populated areas where one would think the map could easily be drawn more cohesively. Could it be they are looking at race and ethnicity of the areas as a contributing factor as to why it is drawn that way? If so, then drawing a map along those types of criteria creates a form of gerrymandering in itself in my opinion.

WalterOlson

The Commission acted in response to a federal court decision that declared unlawful only the Sixth District, and not the rest of the 2011 gerrymander. The Commission thus interpreted its mandate as encompassing a fix only to the Sixth (and the adjoining Eighth, which had to be fixed if the Sixth were to be fixed). It recognized that the rest of the map is grotesquely gerrymandered. Perhaps further court rulings, or a reformed attitude on the part of the legislature, will enable the rest of the map to be drawn more fairly at some future point.

DickD

Because it does and always will as long as political parties set the districts.

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