What is Wrong with this Picture?


“Gerrymander: to divide (a territorial unit) into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the voting strength of the opposition in as few districts as possible (Merriam Webster Dictionary).”

The 2011 Maryland Congressional districts take gerrymandering to a whole new level.   It is well known that Maryland is a predominantly Democratic state, with only two out of eight congressional seats held by Republicans in the 2010 session.  Even so, in the last presidential election,  37% of Maryland voters voted for the McCain ticket.

This means that roughly 4/10 registered voters who participated in the last presidential election voted Republican.  With these new redrawn districts, compiled by Governor Martin O’Malley and Democrat dominated State House, Republicans could possibly lose another U.S. congressional seat, with Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett facing a newly redrawn 6th district.

How is it a fair representation of the Maryland population if there is only one Republican congressman sitting in the House of Representatives? 

It wasn’t always this way in Maryland.  In 1998, Maryland’s representation in the House of Representatives was split four and four between Republicans and Democrats. 

It is sad that the districts have become so distorted and biased,  and what’s worse is that O’Malley has done nothing to hide it.  The abuse of the new Census data and redistricting privileges of the state government is made perfectly clear in the 2011 congressional district map.

The Washington Post stated, “The map, drafted under Mr. O’Malley’s watchful eye, mocks the idea that voting districts should be compact or easily navigable. The eight districts respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor communities of interest. To protect incumbents and for partisan advantage, the map has been sliced, diced, shuffled and shattered, making districts resemble studies in cubism.”

Phil Andrews, a Montgomery County Council member, offers a viable solution, stating, “Since it’s in the nature of political parties to gerrymander whenever they can, and as blatantly as they can get away with, Maryland needs to establish an independent redistricting commission, as several states have.” 

The state of Maryland needs to represent its voters, not its government.  The residents of Maryland have chance to repeal the new districts in referendum question 5, and if they fail to do so they will be stuck with gerrymandered districts for 10 years.  However, if they are successful in repealing the map, the next step would be to create an independent commission to draw the new districts, as 11 other states have done.   

“The principal difficulty lies, and the greatest care should be employed in constituting this representative assembly. It should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason and act like them. That it may be the interest of the assembly to do strict justice at all times, it should be an equal representation, or, in other words, equal interests among the people should have equal interests in it. Great care should be taken to effect this, and to prevent unfair, partial and corrupt elections (John Adams).”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.