Response from League of Women Voters of Maryland and Common Cause Maryland
The Tame the Gerrymander coalition is most hopeful that the 2021 redistricting process will be more open, transparent, and listen to community voices.
Senate President Ferguson and House Speaker Jones recently announced that they are establishing a bipartisan redistricting commission tasked with drawing Maryland’s legislative and Congressional district lines. The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission will be made up of seven members – a non-partisan chair, four Democrats, and two Republicans.
We commend President Ferguson and Speaker Jones for announcing who will be in charge of drawing the Legislature’s maps and for their commitment to ensuring “fair elections and representation for all Marylanders.” But we are concerned about the public’s ability to meaningfully observe, and participate throughout the process.
“For decades, our Maryland government has failed to hear grass-roots voices asking for a transparent redistricting process that serves all of its citizens fairly, without regard to their voter registration. Without trust between the government and the governed, democracy fails. A map drawn by elected officials and no standards is inherently unfair to the citizens of this state.” – Beth Hufnagel, Redistricting Team Leader, League of Women Voters of Maryland
While the Senate President and the Speaker have announced plans to host twelve in-person and virtual town hall meetings, they have not stated whether the Commission will comply with Maryland’s Open Meeting Act or whether they will solicit, accept, and consider maps submitted by the public.
“We appreciate the public being provided the opportunity to engage in the process at these town halls, but it really is difficult to describe communities in just 2-3 minutes. We have several free and accessible mapping tools that were not available ten years ago. These tools provide Marylanders the opportunity to describe their communities, helping map drawers identify and keep communities of interest whole in the redistricting process. The public should also be provided the opportunity to submit maps.” – Joanne Antoine, Executive Director, Common Cause Maryland
Tame the Gerrymander is a coalition of nonpartisan organizations working to establish a fair and open process for drawing election districts in Maryland.