A Thought on Redistricting
Delegate Jeff Ghrist took to Facebook tonight to make an interesting point about redistricting:
Sometimes it’s necessary to go to social media to deliver a message I was hoping the print media would effectively report. Yesterday I testified in front of a state redistricting commission. To summarize my testimony I used real data to show that the democrats in 2012 created districts that were smaller (population) than republican districts. I used our district (36) to compare to district 10 in Baltimore. My colleagues and I represent 5,600 more people than the delegation in Baltimore. We also have to cover more than 1,000 square miles compared to less than 150 square miles in Baltimore City. Making democrat districts disproportionately small did two things. First, it added more districts that are dominated by democrats to help win more seats. Secondly, it spread republicans out to the point where we are representing folks who live 70 miles away. In Elk Neck the residents live less than 20 miles from Delegate Hornberger. He’s a household name there but people can’t vote for him. I live just 20 miles from Preston but the folks who live there can’t vote for a Caroline County resident but had to vote for a person who lives near Salisbury. The structure for effective governance should be made as local as possible. I am not part of the community fabric in Elkton while Delegate Hornberger is well known. Elkton residents couldn’t vote for him. While I and my colleagues are in Cecil County quite often and we will fight for their interests as much as anyone else in the district we will never be part of the fabric of the community because our children do not go to school there, we don’t work there, we don’t shop there and we don’t live there. We have 141 delegates who represent our state. There should be no reason why some representatives should have to cover more than 1,000 square miles and at the same time represent many more residents than those in extremely small geographic areas. This was by design and last year’s election delivered on the redistricting commission’s intent. The system is inherently dishonest and broken.
While it’s not a surprise that the Democrats would do this, this is the first time that I’ve seen anybody conduct the analysis this way.
While districts in more rural areas will always be larger geographically than those in urban areas, there is no excuse at all as to why districts should be so varied in population in this manner. Legislative districts should be of equal size in population, regardless of their location and regardless of the partisan makeup of the electorate in that district.
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And single-member districts, which I have long-championed, wouldn’t hurt either.