Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday he would form an emergency commission to redraw the borders of the 6th Congressional District, which meanders across western Maryland, includes the city of Frederick and stretches down into Montgomery County.
The district map was challenged by seven Republicans, including three from Frederick County, in the U.S. Supreme Court in March for improperly diluting Republican votes. Approximately 66,000 Republicans were removed and 24,000 Democrats added to District 6 during the decennial redistricting in 2011, which may have helped flip a long-held Republican seat to Democratic Rep. John Delaney.
Hogan (R) said it was time for the state to undertake fair redistricting and signed an executive order on Monday to form a nonpartisan commission to redraw District 6.
“Maryland should be leading, but so far we aren’t even following,” Hogan said when announcing the commission.
The state’s congressional map is considered gerrymandered, but the state’s House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee has provided an unfavorable report for the past three years on bills that would guide the redrawing of congressional districts.
Hogan announced he would again submit legislation to the General Assembly to guide statewide redistricting following the 2020 census.
He plans to submit the Redistricting Reform Act of 2019 as emergency legislation, but in the meantime, the Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering will begin to redraw District 6.
The state is on a tight four-month timeline to produce a new map, after a three-person panel of federal judges unanimously ruled that District 6 violated the U.S. Constitution. The court said it would appoint a commission to create a redistricting plan to be used in the 2020 congressional election, if the state did not submit one of its own by March 7.
The new map must be based on “traditional criteria for redistricting” — such as geographic contiguity, compactness and natural boundaries — and may not be drawn with consideration to how residents are registered to vote or the political party to which they belong.
The commission, announced by Hogan, is scheduled to release a revised congressional boundary by March 4 for public comment and to send a finalized map to the General Assembly by April 2.
The commission will be made up of nine members: three registered Democrats, three registered Republicans and three registered voters not affiliated with either party.
Hogan has already appointed three members to the commission. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, a registered Democrat, and Walter Olson, a registered Republican and senior fellow at the CATO Institute for Constitutional Studies, will serve as co-chairs of the commission.
League of Women Voters administrator Ashley Oleson, who is unaffiliated, was also appointed by Hogan. The remaining six members will be selected from the public.
The commission’s meetings will be open to the public and live-streamed, according to a press release from the Office of the Governor.