Gazette endorsement: Vote for a fairer redistricting map -- Gazette.Net


Question 5 on the statewide election ballot asks voters to approve the boundaries for Marylandís eight U.S. congressional districts, as drawn by a five-member committee appointed by the governor and passed by the state legislature. The map is redrawn after each decennial census.

The map, which has passed legal muster, basically was designed to elect a Democrat in the 6th District, which has been served by 10-term Republican Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett from Frederick County. The new district includes more of Montgomery County, more liberal than other precincts in Western Maryland.

As far back as 1978 constitutional amendments have been introduced calling for a nonpartisan commission to prepare the congressional (and legislative) district maps. The measures have never gotten very far.

The shape of some of the newly enacted congressional districts resembles a toddlerís drawing (the 3rd Congressional District, for example, stretches through Baltimore County and city into part of Montgomery County).

Momentum is building, including among Democrats, to switch to a fairer process. A vote ďagainstĒ the map would send the message that itís high time to depoliticize, as much as possible, the redistricting process. The gerrymandering, back-room-deal process is out of tune.