MDGOP Considering Legal Challenge to Multi-Member House of Delegates Districts

One of the more important takeaways from the Maryland Republican Party Fall Convention from over the weekend (which of course you may not have heard about because the media other than Red Maryland blew off the convention) was not the officer elections, but a new fight over redistricting that’s looming.

This has been a topic of conversation among conservative chattering classes for some time. But it does have some merit.

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The Constitution of the state of Maryland does, in fact, allow for multi-member districts to exist:

SEC. 3. The State shall be divided by law into legislative districts for the election of members of the Senate and the House of Delegates. Each legislative district shall contain one (1) Senator and three (3) Delegates. Nothing herein shall prohibit the subdivision of any one or more of the legislative districts for the purpose of electing members of the House of Delegates into three (3) single-member delegate districts or one (1) single-member delegate district and one (1) multi-member delegate district

The question comes as to whether or not multi-member districts provide uneven levels of representation.

For example, I live in Legislative District 31B. I am represented by one State Senator and two members of the House of Delegates. A few miles down the road, residents who live in District 31A are represented by one State Senator but only one member of the House of Delegates. A few miles farther down the road, residents who live in District 32 are represented by one State Senator and three members of the House of Delegates.

How many people are representing you in Annapolis basically depends on where you live and on the whims of whoever is drawing the districts when it comes time to redistricting. And that, one can argue, violates the idea of “One Man, One Vote.”

While I have great confidence in the Redistricting Commission that will be appointed by Governor Larry Hogan in 2021 will draw single-member districts that provide equal representation of all Marylanders, there is still an inherent unfairness in the fact that somebody in one part of Maryland may have more representation that in another part of Maryland. The easiest and fairest fix would be to amend the State Constitution to require single-member districts, which was proposed in the failed Constitution of 1967. But legal action at the federal level does have its merits, particularly in light of the success to date of the plaintiffs in the 6th Congressional District lawsuit that is currently forcing the state to redraw its Congressional lines.

We are a long way away from seeing multi-member districts thrown out and ensuring equal representation for all, but it is good to see that the Maryland Republican Party is considering proactive and aggressive steps to fight for equal protection for all Marylanders.

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