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Maryland launches "Citizens Commission" to address long standing gerrymandering issues

Posted at 2:06 PM, Jan 12, 2021

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday launched Maryland's first ever Citizens Commission, to fairly draw new maps of the state's legislative and congressional districts.

The politically motivated process known as gerrymandering has hovered over Maryland dating back to the administration of former Governor Martin O'Malley.

It's been the subject of several lawsuits, which have accused state lawmakers of drawing up maps that often times favor their own party to keep them in power.

According to Hogan, in Maryland's case the practice has primarily impacted African American and Republican voters.

In 2019 the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4, that partisan gerrymandering presents political questions beyond the reach of federal courts.

The newly formed commission will be made of nine members -- three representing each the Republican, Democratic, and Independent parties.

Hogan has tapped three co-chairs including retired federal district court judge, Alexander Williams, Walter Olson, and Dr. Kathleen Hetherington.

The trio will be tasked with selecting the remaining six members.

Once the commission completes it's work, the redrawn maps will be brought before the state legislature.

According to the Governor, applicants cannot be a lobbyist, current elected official or political candidate, and may not currently work on behalf of a political party or anyone currently holding elected office.

Update March 3, 2021
Applications for the commission closed on February 12th. The co-chairs are looking at all applications and the final six commission members will be announced in the near future.