Maryland Lawmakers Introduces Bill to End Gerrymandering

Maryland Lawmakers Introduces Bill to End Gerrymandering

Christopher Johnson, Writer

A bipartisan coalition of Maryland state lawmakers is sponsoring a bill, HB 463, that would, if enacted, result in a plebiscite on Maryland ballots during the 2020 elections regarding an amendment to Maryland’s constitution to prohibit the gerrymandering of congressional districts. Gerrymandering is the act of drawing congressional districts in a way that intentionally increases one party’s chance of winning the district over another. This can result in—to use a term more commonly used in the context of strategy games—“border gore.” The proposed amendment, introduced by Delegate Michael Malone (R-Anne Arundel), and cosponsored by over sixty other members of the Maryland House of Delegates—both Republicans and Democrats—reads as follows: “Each congressional district shall consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and be of substantially equal population. Due regard shall be given to natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions.”

This bill’s bipartisan support is quite remarkable, as this amendment, if enacted, would likely hurt Democrats’ chances of winning U.S. House elections in Maryland, due to Maryland’s current reputation as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. This gerrymandering heavily favors Democrats. As recently as 2002, Maryland’s congressional delegation was split evenly (4–4) between the two parties. In stark contrast, the state’s current delegation consists of 7 Democrats and 1 Republican.

However, the leaders of the Maryland House of Delegates have not commented on this issue, and the tone of their responses indicates that they may not back the proposal. This would kill the bill by preventing it from coming to the floor for a vote, thus casting the bill’s future in doubt. A hearing for the bill is scheduled for March 4.

In related news, a federal court ruled in November that Maryland must redraw its congressional districts for the 2020 House elections. The judges cited the blatant partisan motivation behind the map, specifically citing Maryland’s 6th district, which includes all of the sparsely populated, Republican Western Maryland, but also includes the heavily populated, liberal areas of Montgomery County’s D.C. suburbs. The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case on appeal. In the meantime, Maryland lawmakers, as well as the governor, are debating whether to appoint a nonpartisan commission to delineate the boundaries of the districts, which could prevent—or at least minimize—gerrymandering.




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Wood, Pamela. “Anne Arundel Delegate Proposes ‘Easily Understood’ Rules to Eliminate Congressional Gerrymandering.”, Baltimore Sun, 11 Feb. 2019,