Andrews Against Redistricting
Ballot Questions Advisory Committee of County’s Democratic Party Overwhelmingly Rejects Congressional Redistricting Map
Montgomery County Councilmember Phil Andrews on Aug. 29 testified before the Ballot Questions Advisory Committee of the County’s Democratic Party, blasting the redistricted Congressional map of Maryland that was proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley, approved by the General Assembly and that is in effect for the 2012 elections. After Councilmember Andrews and others spoke on the proposal that will ask voters whether to uphold the current map or reject it, the advisory committee overwhelmingly voted to reject the current map. Andrews praised the committee for “rejecting an egregiously gerrymandered map”
The advisory committee’s rejection of the map by a vote of 11-1 with 2 not taking a position will be relayed to approximately 400 key members of the party. On Sept. 19, those members are scheduled to vote on this issue, and others, in regard to endorsements on a sample ballot that will be distributed to the public. The issues will be on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
In his testimony, Councilmember Andrews said: “The new map is atrociously convoluted and barely contiguous in numerous areas. For example, District 3 includes the far-flung communities of Silver Spring, Towson, and Annapolis, yet excludes most of the areas between. District 3 looks like blood spatter from a crime scene rather than a Congressional district.”
The complete text of the testimony of Councilmember Andrews:
Maryland’s Congressional redistricting map is an egregious example of gerrymandering — far worse than the 1812 Massachusetts map that is the namesake of the word (see the attached 1812 Massachusetts state senate map and Maryland’s Congressional Districts 2, 3, 4 and 8). The new map is atrociously convoluted and barely contiguous in numerous areas. For example, District 3 includes the far-flung communities of Silver Spring, Towson, and Annapolis, yet excludes most of the areas between. District 3 looks like blood spatter from a crime scene rather than a Congressional district.
The map unnecessarily moves MOST households in the County into a different Congressional district. It unnecessarily divides communities of interest in Montgomery County. And it unnecessarily includes communities in other counties that have little in common with Montgomery while excluding communities in other counties that have much more in common with Montgomery. For example, District 8 now extends through much of Frederick County to the Pennsylvania border, but excludes the part of Frederick County—Frederick City—that has the most in common with Montgomery County.
Many County residents who voted in the 2012 primary were surprised and upset to find out that they had been redistricted into a different Congressional district. Multiply that number several fold to anticipate the reaction this fall when many more voters go to the polls and find out they have been moved to a different congressional district. I have spoken with many County voters about the redistricting map in the past few months, and most are opposed – many very strongly. When first proposed last year, the map (which was later adopted with only very minor changes) was strongly criticized by a supermajority of the County Council, by Congresswoman Donna Edwards, by state legislators of both parties, by Common Cause of Maryland and by the Maryland League of Women Voters. On July 21, The Washington Post editorialized against the adopted map. In a potential foreshadowing of November, the candidate in the District 6 Democratic primary who voted for this outrageous map—and who commentators identified as an intended beneficiary of the new lines—was overwhelmingly defeated.
The argument that some have made in defense of the map that “every state gerrymanders,” is false. Some states have set up independent redistricting commissions to address the inherent problem of elected officials drawing their own districts. Public rejection of Maryland’s map is the only way to get the Governor and General Assembly to redraw it, and to create the momentum that might win passage of a much-needed independent redistricting commission. The Montgomery County Democratic Party needs to be on the side of reform rather than on the side of those who gerrymander. Don’t sully the Democratic Party’s good name by supporting this indefensible, gerrymandered map.