The Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission met Tuesday to craft recommendations for ways to fix gerrymandering in Maryland, focusing on establishing an independent group to redistrict both congressional and legislative districts. The commission hashed out intricate rules to limit partisan influence and ensure the independence of the new panel. The commission will recommend that any new independent commission apply current state standards for legislative districts to congressional redistricting. When drawing congressional boundaries in the current system, Maryland’s governor leads the process, which follows a more general federal standard.
These rules mandate that districts must be drawn with equal populations and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in the voting process. But when drawing state legislative boundaries, under Maryland law, districts must be contiguous and compact, “with due regard for natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions”.
In the past, minority lawmakers and political groups have complained that minority populations are split up and grouped together to help keep incumbent Democrats in power.
The commission held five public regional meetings in different parts of Maryland, hearing from legislators and residents about their ideas on how to reform voting districts.