Common Cause Maryland and League of Women Voters of Maryland call on the Citizens Redistricting Commission to Hold Separate Public Meeting for Baltimore City

Joanne Antoine

(443) 906-0442

Jantoine@commoncause.org

Yesterday evening, the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission confirmed the final list of eight regions for their first round of virtual public meetings. These meetings will provide Commission members the opportunity to hear the concerns of Marylanders and kick off next Wednesday, June 9th at 6pm, focusing on the Eastern Shore region. The other regional meetings will take place at 6pm, each Wednesday through the end of July. 

We appreciate the Commission’s commitment to ensuring Maryland’s line-drawing process centers community input, but are concerned the Central Region grouping may suppress the voices of Baltimore City residents.

“When we look at the approximate populations by region, the Central Region has about 50% more population (1,494,068) than the next largest region, Montgomery County (1,055,110), which isn’t fair or equitable. The excuse of Baltimore City’s location should not be hidden behind when determining how its residents’ voices are heard,” said Nikki Tyree, State Director of the League of Women Voters of Maryland.

“The population in Baltimore City is overwhelmingly Black, especially when compared to the other jurisdictions being grouped into the Central Region. The needs in Baltimore City are also not similar to those in the other two jurisdictions,” said Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “We understand this is one of three regional tours and recognize time constraints, but the first round of public hearings are critical. The Commission needs to develop an equitable formula for determining regional grouping, ensuring they provide a true opportunity for more diverse voices to be heard throughout this process.” 

We urge the Commission to add a ninth region, giving Baltimore City its own public hearing. We also urge the Commission to work with the local government and community leaders to help drive turnout. This additional hearing may result in the meeting calendar extending to the first week of August, but it leaves time for Commission members to organize the input provided during these meetings before drawing maps. More importantly, it ensures as many voices as possible are heard throughout the entire redistricting process. As stated at the May 25th commission meeting, “this is probably the most important commission that the Governor has ever put together.”  We agree and that is why we need to make sure things are done right as this will impact Marylanders for a full decade.

To learn more about the work of the Commission and their upcoming public regional tour, visit redistricting.maryland.gov 

Tame the Gerrymander is a coalition of nonpartisan organizations working to establish a fair and open process for drawing election districts in Maryland.