Un-Gerrymander MD: Vote NO on Question 5

Recently, the Washington Post called Maryland the worst gerrymandered state in the nation. Azavea, an independent geospatial mapmaking firm, ranks Maryland as the least compact state in the nation.Why should you care that Maryland is dead last in this category? Well, compactness is a key measurement of a redistricted map.More compactness means neighborhoods and communities of interest have been respected and not chopped up for political gain. And the least compact state in the nation?Well, start with disrespect, go downhill from there and you get the picture. Some local lawmakers have said this current map is disgusting, a few say it’s nothing more than politics as usual.

My own view, I call the current congressional redistricted map proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and passed by the Maryland State Assembly an absolute, reprehensible, mess of a map. And that’s probably being generous. As a former director of redistricting reform for Common Cause, and a current Common Cause Maryland board member, I’ve had the not-so-fun experience of seeing the real underbelly of just how partisan, cut-throat and disenfranchising this whole gerrymandering process can be and worse, just how awful the final maps can be for our democracy. Voters get disenfranchised, communities get broken up along voting districts, minority voters often get discriminated against to dilute their actual political power, and in the end, confusion and voter apathy are what’s left in the wake of such shenanigans.

But the current map that voters will consider next month on Ballot Question 5 truly takes the um, (Crab) cake for one of the all-time worse gerrymandering maps to ever slither out from under the Annapolis capitol dome or anywhere else for that matter. Congressional District 3 alone could be called some type of adventure tour not for the faint of heart voter. Why? Just to navigate the district you’d probably need to take a bus, a car, a bike, hiking boots and a ferry-boat. Maybe, they should call it “ferry-mandering” instead.

Thankfully, a grassroots effort led by folks like Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews and supported by Common Cause Maryland and many others is urging voters to say “No” to this mess of a map and take the first step to real reform. I agree. And so should you. Say “No” on Question #5 and let’s send this disgraceful “Marylandmander” map back from where it came. Once and for all.

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