Free and fair elections are a founding principle of our constitutional republic. When Marylanders go to the polls, they deserve to know they’re voting in an election that upholds these standards. Unfortunately, for decades Marylanders haven’t benefited from much balance, fairness or competitiveness in our political system. We’ve been singled out for having some of the most gerrymandered congressional districts in the nation; our state legislative districts are even worse.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Benisek v. Lamone, which challenges the blatant manipulation of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District after the 2010 Census. I joined with a bipartisan group of current and former governors to file an amicus brief arguing that Maryland’s partisan gerrymandering system violates voters’ constitutional rights.
Courts have to fix this problem because Annapolis lawmakers put their own political power first. For three years, my administration has proposed reforms to create a nonpartisan system for drawing district lines. But legislators are content with the broken status quo, in which elected officials pick their constituents. Voters deserve better.
Both parties use partisan gerrymandering when it suits their purposes. But there are good people on both sides working to end this problem. I’ve worked with groups, including the NAACP, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, to push for nonpartisan, independent redistricting. I appointed retired judge Alex Williams, a Clinton appointee, as co-chair of Maryland’s Redistricting Reform Commission. This problem knows no party affiliation, and it is eroding the public’s trust in our political system.
Let’s set an example for Washington and the rest of the nation and show that partisan gerrymandering has no place in our democracy. Enough is enough; all Marylanders deserve to have their voices heard and their votes counted.