Something interesting is going on in Maryland this month because a rather famous Democrat from that state has finally said aloud and under oath something which everyone knows, but nobody is supposed to admit in public. Maryland’s chaotic looking map of congressional districts was drawn… (are you sitting down for this?) to oust a Republican from office. I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock. You see, we all know that’s why gerrymandering takes place and we all know how it’s done, but admitting it puts you in particular trouble with the law.
Former Governor (and Democratic presidential candidate) Martin O’Malley has been drawn into a lawsuit brought in opposition to the scheme and has admitted in court that this was specifically the reason that the lines were drawn the way they were. (Baltimore Sun, emphasis added)
Maryland Democrats drew the state’s convoluted congressional districts with an eye toward ousting a longtime Republican incumbent and replacing him with a Democrat, former Gov. Martin O’Malley has acknowledged as part of a high-profile legal challenge to the maps winding its way through federal court.
The acknowledgment that state Democrats were working in 2011 to add a seventh member of their party to the House of Representatives, widely understood at the time but seldom conceded publicly even now, comes as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is advocating for a nonpartisan redistricting commission, ostensibly to curb partisan gerrymandering.
The lawsuit, filed in 2013 by a former federal employee, is shedding new light on the machinations that took place behind the scenes as Democrats sought to oust Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett from the seat he had held for nearly two decades.
“That was my hope,” O’Malley told attorneys in a deposition. “It was also my intent to create … a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican.”
The media loves to talk about “bad district maps” on a regular basis, but it’s usually cases in more southern states where it’s alleged that the maps are created to disenfranchise minority voters. The reality is that it’s to disenfranchise Democrats (who, by definition draw a higher share of the minority vote) but the end effect is the same. It happens. What’s less often mentioned in the legacy media is that the Democrats do it just as efficiently in blue states on a regular basis.
They’ll try to make the argument that they weren’t breaking the law, of course, but… c’mon, man. Just take a look at Maryland’s Fourth District. (Wikipedia)
Is that a congressional district or a machined element ripped out of a torture device? Actually, on second thought, it looks more like some really bad, home made dental bridgework. Either way, it’s a nightmare of twists and turns designed to ring up every last vote in the “right” demographic groups and keep the Republican presence in their congressional caucus to a minimum. And, as I noted above, the GOP does it too. It happens all over the country.
The plaintiffs are asking for an independent board to set up a new map and it’s a common demand around the country. But how truly “independent” can any such body be these days? I’ve brought this up before and I doubt anyone is going to listen this time, but we actually have software now which could redraw all of the maps into the most contiguous, compact shapes possible without regard for voting history, racial profiles or any other demographics. Do that once every ten years and let the chips fall where they may. At least it would be evenly and fairly divided.