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Fair redistricting must include all states [Letter]

As a long-time student of politics, I'd like to comment on your editorial entitled "Election of GOP governor opens the door to fairer election redistricting".

Indeed, I can't imagine political partisanship being kept out of the redistricting process. But what elected Maryland Democrats do to maximize their numbers in Congress and the state legislature here, elected Republicans try their utmost to do the same in states where they hold the redistricting power.

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Consider that, although President Obama in the 2012 elections carried such more-populous-than-Maryland states as Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, each of those states whose redistricting process was controlled by the GOP elected more Republicans than Democrats to the House of Representatives in that year. In some cases, it was way more.

Yes, Maryland's 3rd congressional district is pretty horrible to look at. The Republican-drawn North Carolina's 12th and 4th congressional districts are not exactly beautiful either and Florida's original post-census 5th and 22nd congressional districts were nothing to brag about. Obviously, both political parties look out for their own interests when they draw district lines.

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In my opinion, fair redistricting requires that all states do it the same way at the same time and that would require a federal constitutional amendment. Why should Maryland Democrats shoot themselves in the foot by conceding their redistricting power to an ideal nonpartisan panel while North Carolina Republicans go on doing it their way (as they will unless required to do otherwise)?

Unlike your editorial, I disagree that all of the redistricting proposals that have been introduced in Annapolis call for it to be done via "an independent bi-partisan or non-partisan panel or oversight agency." All of the proposals introduced by Republicans do seem to do that, but the identical bills (SB448 and HB850) that are primarily sponsored by Democrats (Senator Kelley of Baltimore County and Delegate Gutierrez of Montgomery) do not. Instead, they concentrate on compactness as a final result while leaving the process essentially as is.

Larry Hogan and his supporters can go on dreaming about winning a very partisan political battle on this issue. I doubt that it'll happen.

Kenneth A. Stevens

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Columbia

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