Three members of the Board of County Commissioners said they were joining three delegates from Carroll County this week to file a Maryland Court of Appeals challenge of the statewide legislative redistricting plan.
At the board's May 1 meeting, members Doug Howard, Richard Rothschild and David Roush voted to have their names as commissioners on an appeal against the redistricting plan. The three said Dels. Susan Krebs (R-Dist. 9B), Nancy Stocksdale (R-Dist. 5A) and Don Elliott (R-Dist. 4B) were also signing onto the appeal.
The commissioners said the filing was based on arguments of "district packing" — that the new map would place all of Carroll's delegates into one district and make it unlikely that other districts would have Carroll County representation.
They also said they believe the map violates the premise of "one man, one vote," because some residents will vote for three delegates, while others will choose only one at the polls.
"One person, one vote is a fundamental constitutional issue," said Howard, who represents Sykesville and Eldersburg.
Redistricting is a process that takes place every 10 years based on updated figures from the U.S. Census, and often results in shifts in legislative and congressional lines.
For Carroll, the legislative changes have the greatest impact in the southern part of the county.
Currently, Sykesville and Eldersburg are in District 9B, which is solely in Carroll County and is currently represented by Krebs.
In the plan approved by the General Assembly, District 9B would be relabeled 9A. It would retain Sykesville and Eldersburg — but would also be expanded to include roughly the western half of Howard County.
Krebs said previously that under that scenario, it's unlikely the delegate in the redrawn district would come from Carroll, but would instead most likely come from Howard County. On Tuesday, commissioner Howard said that result would mean some 38,000 residents in South Carroll could see their voice in Annapolis reduced.
In addition to Sykesville being shared with a Howard County district, the town of Mount Airy would be included in District 4 — predominantly a Frederick County district. District 4 comes into Carroll County currently, but in a larger way and with a dedicated delegate primarily for Carroll. Under the new map, Carroll would be a smaller part of that district.
The rest of Carroll, including Westminster, Hampstead, Finksburg, Manchester, Gamber, Taneytown, Union Bridge and Eldersburg north of Liberty Road, would be in District 5.
The redistricting would actually increase the number of delegates representing Carroll from four to eight, but opponents have noted that the four incumbents would all be placed in District 5 — essentially running against one another for three seats — and the other representatives would likely be Frederick or Howard county residents.
"This redistricting weakens our presence in the House of Delegates," said Commissioner Rothschild, who represents Mount Airy.
"Which, of course, was its intention," Roush said.
Commissioners Robin Frazier and Haven Shoemaker declined to join the petition. Frazier said she felt she didn't have enough time to study the alternatives and their implications, and Shoemaker said he was concerned that the challenge seemed too political in nature.
"I recognize the argument about South Carroll," Shoemaker said, "(but) the perception is going to be that Carroll County is using taxpayer revenue to pursue a purely political endeavor."
"With all due respect," Howard answered, "where do you think the other maps that we're competing against came from?"
May 1 was the deadline to file a challenge to the redistricting map. Along with the petition, the commissioners and delegates submitted an alternative proposal designed to retain single-member districts for delegates.
County Attorney Tim Burke noted that he court could reject the petition, or accept it and accept the new map, or accept the petition and draw a new map of its own.
Shoemaker had also expressed concern about legal fees and other costs the county might incur in the process. Burke said the only initial cost was a $50 filing fee, and the county could decide later to abandon the case if costs for experts and others expenses become an issue.