Issues to Watch

Assessing the Ability of Governor Hogan to De-Politicize Maryland’s Federal Redistricting Process

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Fixing the Broken-Winged Pterodactyl: Assessing the Ability of Governor Hogan to De-Politicize Maryland’s Federal Redistricting Process

In form, the original Massachusetts Gerrymander looks tame by comparison, as this is more reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the State. The Third District is rated at or near the bottom of all congressional districts in multiple measures of statistical compactness”

Stanley R. Carignan*

The 2010-midterm elections ushered in a new era of partisanship and legislative stalemate unprecedented in modern times.  Adam Bonica, Introducing the 112th Congress, Ideological Cartography (Nov. 5, 2010), introducing-the-112th-congress/.  While the election was a national victory for Republicans, Democrats in Maryland retained their control over the Governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.  2010 General Election Results, Md. State Board of Elections, (last visited Aug. 27, 2015).  In October 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley called a special session of the state legislature to update Maryland’s congressional maps in compliance with the 2010 U.S. Census.  Jeff Newman, Redistricting 101: Democrats Positioning for 7-to-1 Capitol Hill Advantage, SoMd News (Sept. 30, 2011),  Republicans, the minority party, faced considerable legislative obstacles to getting any favorable districts drawn in the new congressional maps.  2010 General Election Results, supra.  Indeed, the congressional districts ultimately produced by the special session are today considered some of the most blatantly partisan in the nation.  Christopher Ingraham, America’s Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts, Wash. Post: Wonkblog (May 15, 2014),  Justifiably frustrated with the outcome of the partisan redistricting process, Republicans successfully petitioned for a voter referendum on the new congressional maps approved by the legislature.  Aaron C. Davis, Md. Voters Likely to Decide Congressional Map, Wash. Post (July 11, 2012),  Despite the Republican outcry, Maryland voters approved of their new partisan congressional districts at a ratio of nearly two to one.  Official 2012 Presidential General Election Results for All State Questions, State Board of Elections, (last updated Nov. 28, 2012).  A similar process played out across the nation as state parties in the majority or supermajority leveraged their power to draw favorable districts.  Noah Litton, The Road to Better Redistricting: Empirical Analysis and State-Based Reforms to Counter Partisan Gerrymandering, 73 Ohio St. L.J. 839, 841 (2012). (more…)