Maryland Redistricting WatchBackground and procedural information
There are five separate pieces of legislation currently pending in Maryland related to independent redistricting commissions. SB 365 and HB 318 would both create a study commission on redistricting in Maryland; the study commission would analyze the current districting process, research other redistricting possibilities, hold hearings, and make recommendations to the legislature about constitutional or statutory changes needed to improve the redistricting process. HB 1300, HB 1301, and HB 1302 would create an Iowa-type redistricting process for both congressional and legislative districts.
Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?
Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?
Yes. In establishing districts, no use can be made of the political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, polling data, maps submitted by the public, and demographic information, except as required by the constitution or federal law.
Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
Like the procedure currently used in Iowa, a non-partisan legislative services group would be responsible for drawing the maps; the commission would serve only an advisory role. The commission would consist of 9 members: 4 appointed by the governor, and two each appointed by the president of the senate and the speaker of the house. Appointed members would elect the ninth member, who would also serve as chair. At least three members must be from the dominant minority party.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
No. The legislation specifically states that proposed redistricting maps prepared by persons not employed by the department of legislative services may not be used.
Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
No. Plans can only be drawn in the year following a census.
*Note: A proposal may be neutral on whether or not to favor competitive districts for a number of reasons, including that such a requirement may be thought to conflict with other criteria, potentially create other legal issues, or is assumed to flow from the new process itself -- or it might merely not be a priority for the legislative sponsors. FairVote believes that some form of proportional voting is needed to ensure maximum competitiveness for each seat and to ensure meaningful choices for all voters.