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Partisan gerrymandering creates uncompetitive elections | READER COMMENTARY

Amanda SubbaRao holds a sign calling for “Fair Maps” during a rally in Annapolis on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. Protesters opposed gerrymandering in which politicians draw districts to benefit their party. On Dec. 7, 2022,  the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, a North Carolina case that could give legislatures greater authority to set such boundaries. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Michael Ernest is correct that too many candidates ran unopposed in our recent Maryland election (”Too many Maryland candidates ran unopposed,” Nov. 19). Partisan gerrymandering is a major reason for this trend.

In Maryland, the Democratic majority in the General Assembly makes overwhelmingly Republican districts where it can, so that there are fewer Republican voters in districts that might otherwise be competitive. Potential Republican candidates are deterred from running.

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If we zoom out to the national picture, we find that Republicans gain much more than Democrats in both state legislative seats and in the U.S. House of Representatives by making extreme partisan gerrymanders. In North Carolina, for example, where there are actually more registered Democrats, Republicans control more than 70% of the House seats.

When the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the map violated the North Carolina Constitution, the legislature sued. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Moore v. Harper on Dec. 7. The extreme theory put forward by the Republican-dominated legislature (and they dominate thoroughly because they have gerrymandered the state legislative map) is that only state legislatures can control the map-making process. They argue that their power over federal elections cannot be checked by the governor or the state courts. Under their “reasoning,” checks and balances do not apply to their power over national elections — even though similar checks and balances apply to the constitutional power given Congress to regulate federal elections.

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The writer worries that “this trend of running unopposed” may eventually “trickle up to U.S. House and U.S. Senate races.” I say, let’s speak out loudly to tell the Supreme Court to reject the cockamamie theory about unchecked power of state legislatures. Let’s all tell our politicians that we reject partisan gerrymandering. North Carolina Republicans put this theory forward only because they happen to be in control. Were they in the position of Maryland Republicans, they would be arguing fervently in opposition.

— Charlie Cooper, Baltimore

The writer is president of Get Money Out — Maryland.

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