Frederick News-Post Editorial
Editorial, Hogan’s redistricting commission should avoid rushed decision, Frederick News-Post, Oct 27, 2015
Comment on Frederick News-Post Editorial
The Frederick News-Post has not attended any of the Redistricting Reform Commission’s workshops, and I would be careful about drawing any inferences from its second hand observations. Even the Daily Record, from which it draws its evidence, only attended the Commission’s first workshop.
The Frederick News-Post says: “[W]hatever new system the commission proposes would require a constitutional amendment that both a supermajority of the General Assembly and voters would have to approve.” This is flat out untrue, as I argued in my testimony at the Commission’s public hearing in Laurel (see https://isolononline.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/2015-10-13-marylandredistrictingcommission-jhsnidertestimony1.pdf)
However, what the Frederick News-Post says about a more important point–the legislature’s opposition to meaningful independent redistricting reform–is accurate. For this observation one doesn’t have to know anything about Maryland; one simply has to look at the track record of state legislatures in all fifty states regardless of party control. Incumbent legislators, especially legislative leaders, will always prefer to draw their own districts so that they can pick their own voters; it’s simply human nature.
It’s good that the Commission is trying for an innovative approach even if it has little chance of passage in the legislature. The alternative would be, at best, a bipartisan independent commission that reduces partisan gerrymanders at the expense of worsening pro-incumbent gerrymanders (incumbent entrenchment is the only thing that bipartisan independent commissions agree upon). That would be a cure worse than the disease.