As previously reported on Conduit Street, the governor’s executive order charges the commission with producing fair maps for both state legislative and congressional districts that comply with a set of criteria, including:
- Complies with U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act of 1965
- Respects natural boundaries and geographic integrity
- Does not take into account voters’ party affiliation
The commission, which is made up of nine members — three Democrats, three Republicans, and three Independents — is co-chaired by Judge Alexander Williams (D), Walter Olson (R), and Dr. Kathleen Hetherington (I).
In Maryland, the General Assembly has primary authority to draw both congressional and state legislative district lines.
The governor, aided by an advisory commission, submits a state legislative redistricting proposal. The legislature may pass its own plan by joint resolution, which is not subject to a gubernatorial veto. If the legislature fails to approve its own plan, the governor’s plan takes effect. Congressional lines are drawn solely by the legislature and may be vetoed by the governor.
In a landmark decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering challenges to electoral maps are political questions and thus beyond the reach of the federal courts, dismissing challenges by voters in Maryland and North Carolina.
The ruling held that Maryland did not have to redraw congressional election districts before the 2020 elections. Instead, the maps must be redrawn in time for the 2022 elections, in accordance with 2020 United States Census data.
According to a press release:
For more information about how to provide testimony at the public meeting, either in advance or during the meeting, please click here. For a list of all upcoming virtual listening tour meetings, click here.
This is the first of three rounds of public meetings – the first round is a listening tour; the second round will occur later in 2021 after Census data is distributed to the states; and the third round will occur after the Commission drafts legislative and congressional maps.