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Time for an Independent Redistricting Commission for Maryland

A letter to the editor from Antonio Campbell, president of Marylanders for Coherent & Fair Representation.

Over a year ago, Marylanders for Coherent and Fair Representation was formed as a 501c4 non-partisan organization to begin a dialogue of how the Congressional Districts of the State of Maryland should be drawn.  Last fall, through the federal court case, we argued that a 3rd Majority-minority coalition district of African-Americans and Latino voters should be created in the suburbs of the District of Columbia.

Earlier this year, MCFR began the petition effort to place the map before the voters of Maryland.  After four months, with a lot of hard work by hundreds of dedicated volunteers, we were successful turning in over 65,000 signatures in July.

This past week, several Democratic elected officials including the Comptroller of the State of Maryland, joined their Republican counterparts to denounce the gerrymandered Congressional District map and are actively campaigning against Question 5.  MCFR is thrilled that people from across the partisan spectrum have chosen to speak with one voice against this map which serves to disenfranchise Latinos, African-Americans, the citizens of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as well as breaking up communities of interests by splitting Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties into four different Congressional districts.

However, the end goal of this fourteen month process has not been only the defeat of the Congressional District map; it has always been the goal of this process to create an Independent Redistricting Commission to have fair and coherent representation for every citizen of the State of Maryland.  Gerrymandering, in every form - Republican or Democrat, takes away the sovereign right of the govern to choose their representatives; instead, you have a chosen few who are able choose their targeted voter constituency by carving up Maryland like it is a Thanksgiving turkey. 

Voting Against Question 5 will allow the voters to choose our Representatives.  If you want good government, vote against Question 5!

Chillin October 17, 2012 at 04:47 PM
And redrawing districts to suit particular ethnic groups isn't gerrymandering? This group's motives are simply using a another wrong to correct an already wrong. Let's get back to basics and simply overlay a grid pattern over the state and assinging a certain amount of squares to each district. All squares must be lumped in some type of contiguous fashion that resembles a lump instead of a wet spaghetti noodle as they do now.
FIFA October 17, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Vote for Question 5. This is an attempt by Republicans to avoid losing seats. Although the map is clearly designed to help Democrats, elections have consequences. I simply want fewer Republicans, not more. Politics are not fair.
Bourne October 17, 2012 at 06:10 PM
You should post the current district map as well. That one is confusing enough. This one just makes your eyes hurt trying to figure out what these people are trying to do.
Baltimore Matt October 17, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Why not have try to have entities in 1 or 2 districts depending upon population size? This map is ridiculous and looks like it's segregating groups by wealth, race, and who they are going to vote for more so that representing an area. I can't begin to understand why Baltimore City is in 3 districts and Baltimore County is in 4. Can't Baltimore and Baltimore county be represented by 1 or 2 congress people each?
Jim T October 17, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Vote against question 5. How in the world can a represenative of a district that includes Western Howard county and Central Baltimore City have the best interest of their constituants? How can somebody living near Fedex Field have any political interests in commaon with someone living at Point Lookout? This is an attempt by Democrats to gain seats. What does your desire to have less Republicans have to do with anything? I want less Democrats but what I want more is fair representation of where I live. I live in a mostly Republican district but have Democratic representation and they do a pretty good job. You need to see through the D or R besides somebodys name and see what good they can do for where you live. If you just vote because of the letter besides someones name, you obviously aren't informed enough to even have the privilege of voting.
Mike Pierce October 17, 2012 at 07:14 PM
As long as people are behind laying out the districts, it will never be "independent". Anyone in a position to be appointed to such a commission comes with biases and an agenda, just like the writer of this article. Every member would still try to use it to further their own cause. The problem will never be fixed until we let a computer, without any biases or agendas, actually lay out the districts. The only responsibility of the "independent" commission is to decide the rules or guidelines for the computer to use - like does keeping an established community together count more than keeping the district tightly configured, vs. having the least change from the old districts. The computer is fed only the population of each precinct, it knows nothing about political party or race of anyone. It only needs to know what legislation or the commission decides is relevant to the process, and weights each based on the rules. The computer, in 2 seconds, produces the best map, which no one would have the basis for disagreeing with, since the rules should have been agreed to ahead of time.
FIFA October 17, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I disagree. There are very few things I agree with Repubs on. Thus I am 100% biased I admit. They serve no useful purpose. Vote all Repubs out.
FIFA October 17, 2012 at 07:27 PM
PS Jim, uninformed I am not.
FIFA October 17, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I disagree Mike. The composition of the district has to be taken into account or bias will inadvertently happen. If most residents of one ethnicity are grouped together in a district that dilutes their representation.
Jim T October 17, 2012 at 07:34 PM
So everybody should have your way of leadership? No room in your world for a 2 party system? There's a few countries that you can try out if you like one way of leardership.
Steve October 17, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I love these Republicans and the names they give their partisan astroturf groups......"Marylanders for Coherent & Fair Representation." Who do they think they are fooling?
FIFA October 17, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Sorry Jim T, you either fix it simultaneously in every stae or leave it alone. No cherry picking.
Chillin October 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I agree with Mr. Pierce. Let the computer do the thinking or lack thereof. Very little computing needed. Simply enter several requirements... starting with the population of people in the state. Computer determines number of districts. Then computer breaks up the state map into square mile grids. Each grid carries a value according to the population within it. The computer assigns each square to a district with each district having the same value and ultimately shaped mass instead of looking like in blots from Dr. Sigmund Frued's laboratory. No social engineering involved. No D, no R, no color, no race, no gender. Just plain ole citizens are counted.
Chillin October 18, 2012 at 12:53 PM
If anyone doesn't like the district they are living in they can move to one that they do like. Just like when parents move to a neighborhood that has the best school for their child. The present system of redistricting is as wrong as the sytem that considers school districts. School districts are also wildly drawn regularly to account for students ethnicity, social status etc. Leave all the social engineering crap out of all these processes. Nature will find its course with humans as it does in the animal kingdom.

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