Some state lawmakers are hopeful the stars are aligned for Maryland to change the way it draws its political districts — a process that has resulted in some of the most convoluted maps in America. Their hopes were bolstered recently when Republican Gov. Larry Hogan devoted part of his first State of the State address to a call for redistricting reform. “We have some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country. This is not a distinction that we should be proud of,” Hogan said. “Gerrymandering is a form of political gamesmanship that stifles real political debate and deprives citizens of meaningful choices.” Hogan said he would create a commission to study the state’s redistricting system, but some lawmakers are not waiting for its findings. They are proposing bills aimed at taking politics out of a process that has helped Democrats achieve lopsided majorities in the General Assembly and turn the congressional delegation from a 4-4 split in the 1990s to a 7-1 advantage over Republicans.
“The state has got some bad press about its congressional districts,” said Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College. He said Maryland’s districts were being taught in college classes as “the poster child for gerrymandering.”
Indeed, Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District — which arcs around Baltimore from Pikesville to Annapolis before meandering to Montgomery County — makes most lists of the most gerrymandered in the county. Shortly after it was stitched together by Gov. Martin O’Malley and General Assembly leaders, the New Republic put it in first place.