I enjoyed reading the Frederick News-Post's New Year’s Day article, Taking a Look Back at 2021. I would like to add another story that should interest the residents of Frederick County. On Dec. 21, the County Council unanimously passed a new map that redraws district lines for Frederick County voters. There was an article about this in Jack Hogan’s following Council Notebook titled, "New redistricting map unanimously passed."
Why is this unanimous vote remarkable? Across the country, redistricting commissions produce fair maps, but those maps are then handed to legislatures that redraw them in order to gain political favor, known as gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is now the rule, not the exception. Legislatures either gerrymander to favor the majority party, or to favor incumbents overall. Lawsuits are then filed to try and stop this, but they can do little to curb it. Gerrymandering has been getting worse for two main reasons:
1. Big data and computing power make it easier to do.
2. As people pay less attention to local news and pay more attention to national news and social media, they also tend to vote more along party lines. This makes gerrymandering even more attractive to legislators.
Frederick County is remarkable because we didn’t do any of this. The council, in a bipartisan, unanimous vote, accepted a fairly drawn map that will be in place for the next three county election cycles, until a future County Council takes up the matter again after the next census. Keep an eye out for articles about new legislative maps around the United States and you will see how rarely fairly drawn maps are enacted.
In a time when democracy seems to be under assault on many fronts, Frederick County did its part to keep free and fair elections alive.
Donald is a member of the Frederick County Council representing District 1.