Maryland’s Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission released its revised district maps last week, and voting-rights groups are concerned the latest version dilutes minority voices. Some also said the mapmaking process needs to be more transparent.
Reginald Benbow, a Democratic candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in the city’s 43rd District, noted adding Towson in Baltimore County to his district would weaken power for communities that have been redlined for years.
“We just have the potential for a more affluent community in Towson mixed in with some affluent communities already from the 43rd District that could overwhelm the interest of some of the neighborhoods that have historically been marginalized,” Benbow asserted.
The Democratic candidate pushed the commission to reconsider the District’s proposed boundaries. He pointed outmatching the demographics of Towson, a predominantly white university town, with portions of Northeast Baltimore, which the 2020 census showed is almost 60% African American, will be difficult to create fair representation.
After releasing the legislative map last week, the commission gave 24 hours notice for an online public hearing about the proposal.
Beth Hufnagel, redistricting committee chair for the League of Women Voters of Maryland, said her group has been pushing for two weeks’ notice for hearings, so residents can better prepare testimony. She claimed a day-and-a-half notice is “woefully inadequate” for meaningful public input.
“Dividing these lines selected to favor politicians invariably ends up splitting communities of interest, fueling the cynicism toward those in charge and feeding the apathy that deters voters from participating in the electoral process,” Hufnagel contended.
Meanwhile, Fair Maps Maryland, an anti-gerrymandering group that backs Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, filed a lawsuit against the commission. The group claimed the state’s new congressional map favors Democrats over Republicans, rendering GOP votes “nearly meaningless in congressional elections.”