Maryland
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by governor and legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Guarded

Congressional

Alert:
Guarded

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Process

State Legislative Districts

Maryland's state legislative districts are first drawn by the Governor and, typically, an advisory committee he appoints. The state Legislature can draw and adopt its own maps through a joint resolution, separate from the Governor's process and not subject to a gubernatorial veto. If the state Legislature fails to adopt its own plans within 45 days, the Governor's maps are adopted.

On January 12, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order to create the Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission, a nonstatutory, citizen redistricting commission.

  • The commission includes three members appointed by the Governor, one each of a Democrat, a Republican, and an Independent. These three will then appoint six additional citizen members, two from each of the same groups. It will conduct public hearings and create draft maps to submit to the Legislature.
    • The nine members of the commission have been announced.
  • These maps must meet the following criteria: respect natural boundaries and the geographic integrity of municipalities and political subdivisions; avoid diluting minority votes; be compact and contiguous; and respect population cores. They also are to avoid consideration of the past voting behavior of voters, as well as any incumbency advantage.
  • Under state law, however, this commission will be advisory to the Governor. 

Congressional Districts

Maryland's congressional districts are drawn by the state Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a three-fifths vote in each chamber.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Maryland’s state constitution (Art. III § 4) requires that state legislative districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve political subdivisions. There are no state law requirements for drawing congressional districts. 

In 2010, Maryland passed the No Representation Without Population Act, ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting.

Public Input

The Maryland commission has released its 2020 redistricting website, where the public can find relevant information and contacts.

Maryland’s state constitution requires public hearings before the Governor can submit district plans. In 2011, the Redistricting Advisory Committee held 13 hearings across the state between July and December. After the proposed congressional map was released in October, the committee accepted public comment. The Maryland Department of Planning also accepted citizen-submitted redistricting plans. A similar process is likely to occur in 2021.

2011 Cycle

In 2011, Maryland Democrats drew a congressional gerrymander to take the Sixth Congressional District from Republicans. This was the subject of a high-profile test case before the Supreme Court, Benisek v. Lamone, in which the Court ultimately found partisan gerrymandering to be nonjusticiable in federal court.

There were many additional cases brought in both state and federal courts, citing violations of compactness, failure to respect communities of interest, unequal population, and partisan and racial gerrymandering. All challenges to legislative and congressional districts were ultimately dismissed or rejected.

Finally, there were lawsuits against the signatures and language of the Maryland Redistricting Referendum, a 2012 ballot measure that asked voters directly to support or oppose the Legislature’s congressional redistricting plan. These challenges were denied. Voters subsequently voted to approve the maps drawn by the Legislature.

Issues

Pitfalls

Democrats have legislative supermajorities, opening the possibility that they could override Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of a congressional map. However, a switch of four Senate votes or fifteen votes in the House of Delegates would bring Democrats below the supermajority threshold.

Potential Reform

In 2020, a number of bills were introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to enact redistricting criteria. PGP organized a coalition letter of state-level reform organizations in support of the Fair Maps Act, a bill which included protections for minorities and communities of interest. These criteria would have applied to both state legislative and congressional districts. The latter currently have no constitutional requirements. The Legislature adjourned before voting on the Act.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • During redistricting, weigh in with your Delegate or state Senator. Emphasize the importance of a bipartisan plan that reflects all Marylanders' priorities, and of working with the Governor.
  • Obtain Maryland redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the advisory committee starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. While the deadline to change the constitutional process for this redistricting cycle has passed, it is never too early to plan and organize for reforms.

Contacts

Common Cause Maryland

League of Women Voters of Maryland

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia