This fall, I am teaching a course in political science at Loyola University. When I needed to illustrate some examples of Congressional gerrymandering, it was easy to find them right here at home.
The map proposed by Governor Martin O'Malley and passed by the General Assembly twists and turns the state's eight House districts in order to maximize the Democratic Party's chances of gaining as many seats as possible. A Philadelphia-based consulting firm recently concluded that three of Maryland's districts are among the most gerrymandered in the country. One of these is the Third District, which a judge said reminded him of "reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state." You can see that district to the right.
Some Democratic politicians have courageously challenged this map. Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews recently wrote that "whenever proponents of Maryland's new congressional districts make their pitch, there is something missing: the map itself. The gerrymandered map of Maryland's congressional districts produced by Gov. Martin O'Malley and a majority of the General Assembly is so outrageous that proponents of the new map are embarrassed to show it in public." Here is a link to the map if you want to judge for yourself.
I will freely admit that Republicans have been guilty of the same type of gerrymandering in states like North Carolina and Texas. Here in Baltimore County, the new Council districts are more compact than the ones adopted in 2001, and certainly nowhere as egregious as the Congressional map.
Voters have been inundated with information about the other ballot questions, but not about Question 5. That is why I wanted to share my opinion on this particular question. When you go into the voting booth, there won't be a picture of the map on the ballot, but you can look for yourself beforehand to determine if this is the type of redistricting that epitomizes the best in government.