Gerrymandering's killing democracy. David Daley knows how to fix it.
Now, we look at the problem of gerrymandering, or partisan redistricting, the widespread practice in the United States by which the political party in control of a state legislature redraws election-district boundaries to favor the election or re-election of that party's candidates.
The Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to convene a special session in early December to consider a new congressional district map. Maryland law says that General Assembly districts must be re-drawn during the regular session, which begins in January.
Many states have formed commissions intended to take partisanship out of the redistricting process. Here in Maryland, politics are far from out of the process. We have not one, but two commissions, one formed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, and the other put together by the Democratic controlled legislature.
The Hogan-appointed Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission is holding virtual public meetings every Wednesday night this month to gather input about a draft of how a Congressional district map might look. They have published a draft of a possible map, and have invited comment.
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, convened by Democratic leaders in the General Assembly is holding a series of a dozen meetings for community input through the middle of November. They have opted not to publish any drafts of maps they are considering.
For a big-picture look at America's redistricting problems, we turn to the journalist and author David Daley. He’s a former editor-in-chief of Salon, and the author of two books about gerrymandering, the latest of which is called Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy. He’s also a Senior Fellow at FairVote, a non-profit that advocates for election reform.
Daley published an essay in the NY Times on September 29th that cautioned that partisan politics has not been erased from the redistricting process, even in states that have independent commissions formed to keep partisanship out of it. And he suggests some alternatives that could ensure more fair and democratic elections.
Dave Daley joins us on Zoom from Western Massachusetts.