by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In contrast to N.C. Republican legislators’ open election redistricting process, their Democratic counterparts in Maryland are taking a less transparent approach. Matthew Foldi of the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The top Democrat in Maryland’s legislature has called for transparency in the redistricting process, but his fellow Democrats have kept their plans for new district lines in the state under wraps.
The Democratic president of Maryland’s state Senate, Bill Ferguson, said during a July radio interview it is “essential” for redistricting commissions to publish draft maps in order to receive feedback from the public during the process. The redistricting commission, appointed by Democrats in the legislature, says it will do no such thing—the first draft proposal for the state’s new district lines won’t be published until before the last of the commission’s 12 public hearings take place.
Karl Aro, the chair of the General Assembly’s Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, said in October that he will have draft proposals for the state’s eight congressional districts made public by Nov. 15. The last chance for the public to weigh in on the redistricting process will be Nov. 18.
These plans contradict Ferguson’s assurance during the July interview that maps would be put out in September. “We will be putting forward maps when we have the data after September to get feedback from Marylanders,” said Ferguson, who directly appointed Aro to lead the commission. “It’s really essential that people have something to respond to as opposed to just showing up at a commission meeting to hear things.”
States across the country reassess district lines every 10 years after the federal census is completed, allowing the party in power to carve the state in politically advantageous fashion. National Democrats have worked to position themselves as opposed to partisan gerrymandering, but in states such as Illinois and Oregon, Democrat-controlled legislatures are poised to pass new maps designed to disenfranchise Republican voters.