ANNAPOLIS, Md. — One of Maryland’s two competing redistricting commissions is holding an observation meeting for the first time tonight, and advocates hope the public will participate.
Keisha Morris Desir, census and mass incarceration project manager for Common Cause-Maryland, said it is the first time the state has utilized two separate redistricting commissions, which may lead to a partisan struggle over maps.
A bipartisan group organized by Gov. Larry Hogan aims to add more Republicans to the process, which has been dominated by Democrats for years.
Desir explained the second group, created last month by two leading Maryland state Democrats, will outline its future meeting schedule tonight.
She stressed the importance of having residents speak about the problems of dividing communities into separate legislative districts.
“It’s really important for communities to be able to define their own communities,” Desir asserted. “And to say that this section of Maryland is ours, and we want to be kept whole, so that’s really important to advocate for their issues.”
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission meeting will be held online from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Desir noted Maryland is one of just 10 states correcting for incarceration gerrymandering. Instead of counting incarcerated people as residing in the prison neighborhood, as the U.S. Census does, the state counts them as living in their original communities.
“Maryland has been, honestly, the gold standard in reallocation, and this year they have been able to reallocate something like 90% of incarcerated people back to their home communities,” Desir pointed out.
She added the action makes the distribution of government money for services such as schools and hospitals fairer since it is driven by where people normally live. The final numbers on Maryland’s prison reallocation are due Thursday.