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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Do we live in the most gerrymandered district in the country?

      Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens  has written a new book about some recommendations for new amendments to our Constitution.   One of his recommendations is to have a non partisan process in drawing election districts.  This is relevant for Maryland which has been called the most gerrymandered state in the United States.   This may seem to be at odds with the view of our State as being one of the most progressive states in the Country.  We have eliminated the death penalty, enacted our version of the Dream Act for immigrants, raised the minimum wage and was the first state to vote in marriage equality.  Maybe it is time to give another state the title of most gerrymandered state.

    An example of our crazy gerrymandered state is our very own Third Congressional District shown above. This Congressional District has been called the "ugliest drawn district in the Country."  This carefully drawn district makes sure that it remains a safely Democratic district.  Combining such diverse places as Gaithersburg, Annapolis and Columbia makes no sense in representing common communities.
We in Howard County are used to being carved out to continue to provide liberal voters to keep Baltimore based elected officials in office. Our central location between Washington and Baltimore makes us ripe for being pushed into providing a piece of districts of Montgomery, PG or Baltimore politicians. A piece but never enough of a piece to have one of our local officials elected to those districts.   If we had a strong conservative Republican voting base you can be sure the district lines would be drawn to push us into more conservative western Maryland districts.
     How large does Howard County need to become before a Howard County elected official can represent up in Congress?

    For all you app designers out there maybe you could come up with an app for elected officials to tell them where the street boundaries are for their districts.  You wouldn't want to be going door to door in areas outside of your district.  This app might be heavily downloaded in Maryland.

P.S. 1
    I am open to suggestions for describing the shape of this district.  Kind of a Congressional District Rorschach test.  My descriptions all go in the direction of a dog holding a gun.


1 comment:

Mike Pierce said...

What we need is not only a non-partison process, but a non-human controlled process. Land planners and others already know how to do it. A computer needs to be fed the ceusus data (without anything about race or party) and the rules, such as that districts need to be compact and contiguous (which the one shown really isn't), etc. and let the computer draw the new districts, with no possibilities for a human to mess it up.