Written by Lilly Datchev
Today, in the sweltering heat, Common Cause Maryland sweated together with allied organizations and fellow citizens to commemorate the infamous Elbridge Gerry's birthday. From his name was born the term gerrymandering, that is, the process of cutting up electoral districts to favor the incumbent party -- and Maryland proudly holds the title of most gerrymandered state in the nation. As positive of a demeanor as we held, we were there to protest this very fact" because gerrymandering is undermining our democracy.
Our newly drawn districts are slicing up the state in an almost incredible fashion. One participant's sign read, "District 3: What Is This?" next to a picture of the district which really resembles a Rorschach test, as one Baltimore Sun editorial laughingly stated. Other signs demanded adequate representation and urged elected officials to "Tame the Gerrymander". Minority groups are being especially hurt by these districts as communities are sliced apart, ultimately undercutting their votes.
Anne Arundel County councilmember, Chris Trumbauer, (D- Anne Arundel) spoke in support of our cause, saying "don't hate the players, hate the game," and, further, that study must be done on how redistricting can be reformed at both the state and federal levels. Delegate Aisha Braveboy (D-25) was unfortunately unable to attend but she offered her proud support. Leaders of the League of Women Voters of Maryland and the National Council of Jewish Women Annapolis Section also spoke, urging the public to reach out to their legislators and make it known that we care and that the system of elections must change.
With the coming gubernatorial election in 2014, the time to act is coming up quickly. Pictures of the "birthday party" and cake will be sent to legislators entreating their attention. With enough passion and persistence we can bring this issue to focus, which is so important because, as Jennifer Bevan-Dangel said at the rally, "Voters should choose their elected officials -- elected officials should not choose their voters."