Maryland’s elected leaders seem unlikely to negotiate a deal this year to end partisan gerrymandering, despite overwhelming public support for redistricting reform, pressure from citizen groups to reach a compromise, and a federal lawsuit that could force the state to overhaul its voting maps for upcoming elections. More than two weeks after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed plans to pursue a regional redistricting compact and insisted that Maryland should act alone, the state’s top Republican and Democratic officials remain sharply divided on the issue and have made no efforts to merge their proposals. “Pulling these parties together could be the trickiest piece,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, which is urging the two sides to meet this summer and hammer out an agreement before next year’s legislative session.
A February Goucher College poll showed that 73 percent of Marylanders would prefer that an independent commission determine the state’s voting districts, with overwhelming support for the concept across party lines. Only 20 percent said they want elected officials to continue forming the districts, which have been called among the most convoluted in the nation.
For the past two years, Hogan has proposed putting a nonpartisan panel in charge of redistricting for congressional and legislative districts. His bills have died without a vote in the state legislature, where Democrats hold strong majorities in both chambers.