Following last year’s federal court ruling ordering Maryland to redraw the 6th Congressional District, redistricting reform has been at the forefront of the Maryland political scene. Next week the Supreme Court will hear two arguments on gerrymandering, including one case from Maryland. Recent legislation in the General Assembly received bipartisan support, and Gov. Hogan’s proposal to create a nonpartisan redistricting panel has been met with positive public reception.
Maryland legislative districts are currently excessively gerrymandered, with then-Appellate Judge Paul Niemeyer once describing the 3rd Congressional District as “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.” Gerrymandered districts lead to increasingly partisan politics as candidates appeal to more extreme segments of their parties in order to get elected. This results in politicians who fail to accurately represent their constituents, divided communities, and disengaged voters.
Rather than wait for judicial reprimand or for other states to take action, Maryland should take the lead in challenging divisive gerrymandering and implement genuine, nonpartisan redistricting reform.