With today’s Census Bureau’s data release the League of Women Voters of Maryland (LWVMD) calls for a redistricting process that includes maximum opportunity for public scrutiny. We are calling upon the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission (LRAC) to:
(1) demonstrate transparency by adhering to the Maryland General Assembly’s own Open Meetings Act;
(2) release the preliminary maps in a format suitable for quantitative analysis (GeoJSon) as soon as they are completed;
(3) hold multiple hybrid hearings, starting 2 weeks after the Commission releases its preliminary maps; and
(4) allow sufficient time for comments received at those hearings to be considered by the Commission—well before the start of the General Assembly’s 90-day session.
The LWVMD further calls on the LRAC to demonstrate its commitment to fairness by adopting standards, before its process begins, that DO NOT:
- consider how individuals are registered to vote, how they have voted in the past, or the political parties to which they belong; and
- consider the domicile or residence of any incumbent officeholder or potential candidates.
“In a democracy, voters must have the opportunity to pick their own legislators, not the other way around.” said Deborah Mitchell, LWVMD co-president. “Trust between the voters and the people they elect must be nurtured.”
For the first time a new form of public input is available: maps created by communities of interest (COI). The LWVMD requests that the LRAC reach out and gather COI maps from underrepresented communities and consider them in their mapping deliberations. Splitting communities is a form of voter suppression.
The LWVMD challenges the LRAC to use a dedicated website that both gathers information the Commission has released and provides information the public wishes to offer, a standard communications tool and form of transparency. At this point, the public does not even have contact information for the chair of the LRAC.
Details of the LWVMD redistricting position, including background, is available on the LWVMD website.