Redistricting Changes Are Coming

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Redistricting. I’m sure you have heard or read about redistricting when it comes to political boundaries. I’d like to explain how redistricting will take place here in Maryland in the next few months, and its impact on the 2022 primary and general election.

Everything starts with the census. The United States Constitution stipulates that a census takes place every 10 years to count the population. One of the main reasons for this count is to determine representation for the populous at the national (congressional districts) and state (legislative districts). Maryland’s governor decides how these district maps are determined.

The Democrat party is the majority party in the General Assembly and may offer their own versions of the maps. During the legislative session, the entire General Assembly will review these two maps and others submitted by other legislators and approve one of these maps. They should be reviewing maps, considering ethnic diversity, natural boundaries, political boundaries, and other information taken from the census before drawing the political lines for the new districts.

Ten years ago, the congressional maps were gerrymandered so drastically by former Governor Martin O’Malley and the state legislature that Maryland has been held up as an example of the most gerrymandered state in the union. Gerrymandering is a term used when districts are drawn to give one political party more voters over another political party. The boundaries do not follow natural land areas but instead where voters live. This will help one party maintain its political dominance. In other words, the legislators are picking the voters. Maryland has eight congressional districts. In 2010, Democrats represented six of these congressional districts. Republicans represented the other two districts. By the 2012 election, the Republicans had lost one of their congressional districts. It has remained this way until present day.

In January, Governor Larry Hogan appointed a nine-person independent commission to come up with nonpartisan redistricting maps. There was an open application process for people to submit their names for consideration to sit on this commission. It is made up of three Democrats, three Republicans and three independent registered voters. They may not consider where a current politician lives, or how citizens have voted in the past. This commission hopes to bring more transparency to the redistricting process, instead of the districts being drawn up behind closed doors in Annapolis. However, the state legislature may choose to not use the recommendations from the redistricting commission and use its own maps.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this process has been delayed. The new district maps are usually released in spring the year after the census concludes. Now they will not be available until mid-September. This gives politicians little time to campaign for the 2022 election in their new district. There is uncertainty of where the boundaries of their districts actually will be, and even if they will reside in the district that they plan on representing. Maryland’s primary election starts with early voting on June 16, 2022.

There will be a lot of discussion in the months to come about this redistricting process. Certainly, there will be changes with every district in Maryland. You need to be aware of these changes, and possibly the changes in the people who will be representing you. At this time, I have filed to run for re-election as your senator in District 33. Time will tell what the boundaries for the new District 33 will look like. As always, you may contact me by emailing me at edward.reilly@senate.state.md.us.

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