Maryland Legislature Expected to Approve New Congressional Card – CBS Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Democratic legislature is expected to give final approval on Wednesday of a new congressional card that would likely preserve a 7-1 advantage, five days after a judge struck down the first Democrat-drawn card in this redistribution cycle to the vote of Republican voters to water down.

The Democrat-controlled General Assembly has scrambled to approve a new map for the state’s eight U.S. House of Representatives districts, following Justice Lynne Battaglia ordered a new one will be drawn by Wednesday. The judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday to consider a new plan.

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The new map makes congressional districts more compact, but Republican lawmakers claim it’s still riddled with unfair partisan manipulation.

In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Democrats have a 7-1 advantage in the US House of Representatives. The card, approved by a panel of lawmakers in December, added Democrats to the lonely Republican-held district, making a more competitive race for Republican Rep. Andy Harris. It also created the potential for the Democrats to go 8-0 in Maryland.

The new map would remove a portion that stretched Harris’ Eastern Shore district across the Chesapeake Bay into an area with more Democrats and restore GOP strength in the 1st congressional district.

So far, courts have stepped in to block cards they’ve found GOP Gerrymander in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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The Maryland House advanced one measure with a new one on Wednesday map already approved by the Senate, and a final vote should send the card to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan later in the day.

In her 94-page judgment, Battaglia described the original card as “a product of extreme partisan manipulation.” She found that this violated the constitutional requirement that legislatures consist of contiguous areas and be compact in shape, with due regard for natural boundaries and political subdivisions. It also violates the state constitution’s provisions on free elections, freedom of expression and equal protection, she said.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones said the new card is conditional on the loss of an appeal of the judge’s ruling. So far, however, the Attorney General’s Office has not announced an appeal.

Hogan, who has long criticized the state’s political boundaries, is pushing for the adoption of a map by a panel he appointed by executive branch order. The governor said the map was written by an independent panel that took politicians out of the district drawing process.

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The Maryland Supreme Court had already postponed the state primary from June 28 to July 19 in a busy election year. Voters will decide all 188 seats in the state legislature, opening statewide offices such as governor, attorney general and comptroller, one seat in the US Senate and so on eight congressional seats. Maryland Legislature Expected to Approve New Congressional Card – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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