Vote NO on Question 5: The O’Malley Map

Anytime Common Cause and conservatives and virtually every newspaper in the state of Maryland unite in opposition to something it is a sign that something very wrong is being opposed. What unites these unusual allies is the Martin O’Malley redistricting.

While we would be among the first to concede that elections have consequences and that to a great extent “to the victor goes the spoils” there are times when the raw exercise of power nauseates rather than awes, when it damages the credibility of the system of governance regardless of the short term political gains.In general, districts should take into consideration a series of principles that makes redistricting more an art than a science:

  • Contiguity
  • Political boundaries
  • Compactness
  • Communities of interest
  • Political outcomes

These considerations aren’t hard and fast and as Maryland doesn’t require pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act, the governor and legislature can do much as they please. But as the BaltimoreSun points out, the O’Malley map tosses the first four principles out the window in service of “political outcomes.”

Maryland’s congressional maps are a product of the politicians, for the politicians, by the politicians. They were born of the two competing desires of the state’s Democratic Party bosses: to give incumbent Democrats the precincts they want to make their re-election efforts easier, and to put one of the state’s two Republican-held congressional seats at risk. They achieved their goals — Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett is facing his first serious challenge in years, and none of the incumbent Democrats is breaking a sweat. But they did so by producing an ink splotch of a map that joins together communities that have nothing in common.In particular, the changes to Maryland 3 and Maryland 6 build districts that have nothing in common.


The 3rd District, represented by Democrat John Sarbanes, is the most egregious, combining portions of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties in a way that a federal judge described as “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl” — an insult to pterodactyls, if anything. Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s 2nd District, which manages to include Randallstown, Aberdeen and Ft. Meade, isn’t much better.

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Maryland 6 splices in a huge chunk of Montgomery County which has nothing in common ith Allegheny, Garrett, and Washington Counties in terms of demographics or interests.

Driven by the prospect of adding a seventh seat to the six their party controls in the eight-member House delegation, Democratic Party leaders went overboard in carving up territory so that Democratic votes would be deployed to maximum advantage, even if it meant stitching them into districts resembling violently spilled coffee. The results are districts of diverse and, in some cases, wildly incongruent interests that will be all but impossible for a single representative to navigate, let alone fairly represent on Capitol Hill.

The local leaders in Montgomery County are opposed as are local leaders in Prince Georges County which had, rightfully, expected the creation of another minority majority district.

Even people, like myself, who are in favor of politically based redistricting should oppose the O’Malley map because it is creating support for redistricting to be taken from the Governor and General Assembly and handed over to some sort of “non-partisan” commission: an idea that is as profoundly ill-considered as the O’Malley map itself.

In short, this is a rather dumb stunt by the O’Malley administration, something that isn’t all that unheard of, and should be repudiated by Maryland voters. RedMaryland and commonsense encourages you to vote NO on Question 5 and the O’Malley map.

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