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Drawing a line on Md. gerrymandering

This Feb. 14, will mark the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters, an organization that was built on the efforts to secure for women the right to vote and continues its work by providing information to all voters to ensure that the right is exercised effectively.

In Maryland and many other states, the League of Women Voters is addressing a serious threat to the right to vote: gerrymandering. Last year's redistricting process created congressional districts that twist from one county to another, dividing communities and combining little portions of each with parts of counties many miles away, with very different interests. The voters in those districts have little in common with one another except an arbitrary congressional district number.

Several states, Iowa and California among them, have established non-partisan commissions to draw congressional and legislative districts. In other states, proposals have been considered for more open procedures that permit more direct voter participation to ensure that district shapes are not manipulated for partisan advantage. Maryland should take a serious look at what has worked and not worked in other states as well as models proposed by academic experts and consider whether our own redistricting process could be improved by adopting those procedures that have proven effective elsewhere.

Fortunately, a bill has been filed in both the House and Senate of the Maryland General Assembly that would authorize a task force to conduct just such a study. These bills have received bipartisan support, but they have little success of passing without engagement by the voting public. Senate Bill 240 will be heard on Feb. 14 in the Education Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. We encourage everyone to help us celebrate our birthday by contacting their legislators and asking them to support creating a task force to study a better way to do redistricting in Maryland.

Nancy Soreng, Annapolis

The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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