The Facts

Gerrymandering In Maryland

Following the results of the 2020 Census, Maryland will redraw its congressional and legislative districts for the coming decade. Fair Maps Maryland encourages all voters to be informed about the issue and learn the facts.

What is “gerrymandering?”

Gerrymander | ger·ry·man·der | /ˈjerēˌmandər/
to manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

Named after former Massachusetts Governor and Vice President Elbridge Gerry (pronounced like “Gary”), gerrymandering (pronounced like “Jerry,”) began when, as governor, Gerry signed into law legislation that created the first legislative district maps drawn with egregious partisan bias. Critics at the time likened the shapes of the districts to a winged, snake-like monster; the Boston Gazette ran an infamous political cartoon by illustrator Elkanah Tisdale featuring the beast with the headline “The Gerry-mander” in March 1812, and the name has stuck ever since.

What is the political process to end gerrymandering in Maryland?

Some states can simply pass a bill or a simple voter referendum to enact redistricting reform, but not in Maryland. Here, a Constitutional Amendment is needed. However, the Maryland General Assembly has refused to pass any of Governor Hogan’s legislation to begin this process. In response, he created by Executive Order the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission. You can learn more about the commission here. Very simply, they are a group of independent, non-partisan community leaders working to create legislative maps that make sense and truly represent the people of Maryland.

Are both parties guilty of gerrymandering?

Absolutely. Both Republicans and Democrats use their political power to draw maps that produce partisan outcomes.

How bad is gerrymandering in Maryland?

Most states suffer from gerrymandering, but some suffer from it more than others. Maryland falls into the latter category. A federal delegation that was once evenly split between Republicans and Democrats just 20 years ago, is now a 7 to 1 split. Notably, this massive change in representation also took place during a time when Marylanders elected two Republican governors in three different elections.

When did gerrymandering last take place in Maryland?

Former Governor Martin O’Malley conducted the last redistricting process in Maryland following the 2010 national census.

How has Governor Hogan attempted to solve the gerrymandering problem?

Governor Hogan is the first governor in Maryland history to forcefully speak out and take action against gerrymandering and has made numerous attempts to get the Maryland legislature to pass a non-partisan redistricting commission into law. While many legislators will readily acknowledge that gerrymandering is bad and that voting is a civil rights issue, most refuse to do anything about it.

How old is gerrymandering?

Over 200 years old.

What does gerrymandering do to our country’s political environment?

Electoral districts are now more partisan, less competitive, and less diverse than ever and the political outcomes follow the exact same pattern.

What is the goal of Fair Maps Maryland?

Fair Maps Maryland will utilize grassroots organizing, earned and paid media to educate Marylanders and elected officials about the disastrous consequences of politically motivated gerrymandering while strongly encouraging support for the electoral districts and maps created by the independent and non-partisan Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission.