ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced a commission to draw legislative and congressional maps for the 2022 elections.
The Republican governor has repeatedly made redistricting reform a priority of his tenure, though legislation to create an independent panel has stalled. Hogan, a Republican, created the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission by executive order.
The commission will have nine members, including three Democrats, three Republicans and three independents. Hogan named three members, including one Democrat, one Republican and one independent. The other six will be selected from applications submitted by citizens.
Maryland’s congressional map has repeatedly been criticized and challenged in court for being unfairly drawn to benefit Democrats. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Democrats hold a 7-1 advantage over Republicans in the state’s eight U.S. House seats, Hogan noted.
“These absurdly drawn districts are the direct result of a blatantly obvious scheme where one party rigs the system to concentrate one party’s voters as much as possible while segregating another party’s voters into a larger number of districts so that they can continue to win comfortably,” Hogan said at a news conference.
Democrats have long controlled the General Assembly and the governor’s office in redistricting years in Maryland. The congressional districts and state legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years after the census.
The commission will conduct regional summits to allow citizens to offer comment on the boundaries of the congressional and legislative districts.
A plan for redrawn districts will be submitted to the General Assembly. The legislature can draw its own map for the state legislative districts. The congressional map approved by the legislature is subject to the governor’s veto, which would take a three-fifths vote to override.
Democrats, who hold a supermajority in both houses, contend redistricting reform should be done at the national level.
“This year, Democrats in the Legislature are focused on critical priorities including COVID Relief, police reform, equity, and looking out for the many needs of Marylanders,” Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said. “ This session isn’t about political theatrics, and we hope the Governor will join us in focusing on the priorities of Marylanders.”
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