Congressional maps are enacted by the State General Assembly. The Governor submits one plan for congressional districts to the General Assembly which is prepared and delivered to the Governor by the advisory, nine-member Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission. The Governor can veto a plan adopted by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly can override a veto with a three-fifths vote. Democrats currently have veto-proof majorities in both chambers.
Challenges to the maps are litigated in the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The Governor initially appoints one registered Democratic voter, one registered Republican voter, and one voter registered with neither party. The remaining six commissioners are selected through a public application process, with the Governor appointing two registered Democratic voters, two registered Republican voters, and two registered with neither party out of the applicant pool. The governor appoints one or more members to chair the Commission. Appointees must have been continuously registered with their party or not with any party for the last three years immediately preceding their appointment. Appointees cannot be a representative, candidate, or staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Maryland General Assembly, or the Governor's office, an officer or employee of a political party or political committee, or a current registered lobbyist.
The Commission shall hold meetings at such times and places as it deems necessary to enable full consideration of and input as to the establishment of legislative and congressional districts, and to encourage citizen outreach and broad public participation in the redistricting process, and all meeting must be open and accessible to the general public in accordance with Maryland's Open Meeting laws. The Commission must conduct regional summits to allow citizens to offer comments on the boundaries of districts, as well as provide an electronic portal for citizens to review redistricting data and submit their comments about redistricting. The Commission may create committees and designate otherwise qualified individuals with relevant experience to serve thereon, and it may consult with units of State government and outside experts to get technical assistance and advice as it deems necessary to complete its duties. After receiving sufficient input from the public, experts, committees, and other interested persons, at least 7 commissioners must vote to approve and certify its proposed legislative and congressional redistricting plans and maps. The proposed plans and maps are then publicized in a manner reasonably designed to achieve broad public availability and access and the Commission accepts and reviews comments about them. After publicizing, reviewing, and making any appropriate adjustments to the proposed plans and maps, at least 7 commissioners must vote to approve and certify the final redistricting plans. The final plans and maps are submitted to the Governor, along with a report that explains the basis for the Commission's decisions and includes definitions of the terms and standards used for each plan. The Governor then transmits the final plans and maps for introduction in the General Assembly.
Both sets of the Commission's redistricting plans must respect natural boundaries and existing political subdivisions to the extent practicable, be geographically compact and include nearby areas of population to the extent practicable. The plans shall not account for how individuals are registered to vote, how individuals voted in the past, the political party to which individuals belong, or the domicile or residence of any individual, including an incumbent officeholder or a potential candidate for office.
The Governor submits one plan for legislative districts to the General Assembly at the start of the session after holding at least one public hearing. The original map becomes law if the General Assembly fails to enact its own plan within 45 days. The Governor can veto a plan adopted by the General Assembly. The General Assembly can override a veto with a three-fifths vote. Democrats currently have veto-proof majorities in both chambers. Challenges to the maps are litigated in the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The Governor's legislative district plan is prepared, approved and delivered to the Governor by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission in the same manner as congressional plans are, described above.
Source: Md. Const. art. III, § 5; Executive Order 01.01.2021.02
Previous Redistricting Cycles
- Original Plan – SB 1
- Passed = October 20, 2011 (D-controlled)
- Signed = October 20, 2011
- Referendum = Failed in 2012 election
- Litigation History
- Martin v. Maryland, No. 11-904 (D. Md. Oct. 27, 2011): Plaintiff-resident of Maryland filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Maryland and its Governor seeking an injunction ordering that the state’s congressional redistricting be based upon districts with 30,001 citizens in each, thereby increasing the number of congressional seats the state would have. On October 27, 2011, the district court dismissed the action on the grounds it was a non-justiciable political question.
- Martin v. Maryland, No. 11-3443 (D. Md. Feb. 9, 2012): The same plaintiff brought the same lawsuit asserting the same claims, although slightly modified. On February 9, 2012, the district court again dismissed the action as a non-justiciable political question.
- Fletcher v. Lamone, 831 F.Supp.2d 887 (D. Md. 2011): A group of African-American voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging Maryland’s enacted congressional plan, asserting claims of vote dilution and intentional discrimination in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the 14th and 15th Amendments, and Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, along with a challenge to Maryland’s law aimed at ending prison gerrymandering. On December 23, 2011, the district court granted summary judgment for the defendants, upholding the plan and law after finding the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently establish the alleged violations.
- Aff’d, 133 S.Ct. 29 (2012)
- Gorrell v. O’Malley, No. 11-2975 (D. Md. Jan. 19, 2012): A Maryland voter filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s enacted congressional plan alleging that the plan unconstitutionally separated the community of interest of farmers, was a gerrymander, employs an overly strict equal population rule, and was enacted through a procedure that violated state constitutional and statutory guidelines. On January 19, 2012, the district court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the action for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted.
- Olson v. O’Malley, No. 12-240 (D. Md. Mar. 5, 2012): A group of Maryland voters filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s enacted congressional plan as violating state constitutional and statutory provisions by giving insufficient consideration to contiguity, compactness, and political subdivisions, and in violated such Maryland law the plan violated the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. On March 5, 2012, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding that the state constitutional provision cited only applied to legislative redistricting, and thus the due process claim must also fail.
- Parrott v. Lamone, No. 15-1849 (D. Md. Aug. 24, 2016): A group of Maryland voters challenged the state’s enacted congressional plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that transferred the power to select representations from all Maryland voters to the Maryland General Assembly in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments’ Due Process Clauses and Article I, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. On August 24, 2016, the district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege standing because they could not allege an invasion of a legally protected interest.
- Benisek v. Lamone I, 577 U.S. 39 (2015) (formerly Shapiro v. McManus): A group of Maryland voters and other interested parties filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s enacted congressional plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of the 1st Amendment, the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the Elections Clause, and Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The district court originally denied the plaintiffs’ request for a three-judge court to hear their case and instead dismissed the action on the grounds that no relief could be granted on their claims. On December 8, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back to district court, stating that a three-judge court must be convened in a statewide challenge to a redistricting plan unless the claims are wholly insubstantial or frivolous, which these claims were not.
- Benisek v. Lamone II, 139 S.Ct. 2484 (2019) (consolidated with Rucho v. Common Cause): The Benisek plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims were consolidated with similar partisan gerrymandering claims brought against North Carolina’s congressional plan and appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 27, 2019, the Supreme Court held that partisan gerrymandering claims presented non-justiciable political questions beyond the reach of federal courts because there existed no judicially manageable standards to adjudicate them.
- Governor’s Plans – HJR 1 (House); SJR 1 (Senate)
- Enacted = February 24, 2012 (Became law after General Assembly failed to pass own plans)
- Litigation History
- In the Matter of 2012 Legislative Districting of the State, 80 A.3d 1073 (Md. Ct. App. 2013): After the governor’s legislative plans became enacted, three different petitions were filed challenging the plans’ constitutionality on various grounds, including the use of multi-member districts and districts that crossed county lines, ignoring natural and political subdivision boundaries, racial and political gerrymandering, and compactness. On December 10, 2013, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an opinion explaining its reasoning for its November 7, 2012 order upholding the plans as constitutionally valid.
- Bouchat v. State, No. 15-2417 (D. Md. Sep. 7, 2016): A Maryland voter and unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 election filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s enacted legislative plans as unconstitutional, alleging that the plans’ use of multi-member districts and districts that cross county lines violated various state and federal constitutional provisions, in addition to partisan gerrymandering claims. On September 7, 2016, the district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds the plaintiff’s claims were barred by res judicata since the plaintiff had already brought and lost on similar claims in the 2012 Legislative Districting of the State case.
- Original Plan – SB 805
- Passed = April 4, 2002 (D-controlled)
- Signed = May 6, 2002
- Litigation History
- Duckworth v. State Admin Bd. of Election Laws, 332 F.3d 769 (4th Cir. 2003): Plaintiff Maryland voter sued various state officials and agencies challenging the state’s enacted congressional plan on the grounds several districts were bizarrely drawn partisan gerrymanders in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments and were malapportioned in violation of Article I, Section 2’s one person, one vote principle. After the district court dismissed all of the claims, the plaintiff appealed as to the 14th Amendment partisan gerrymandering claim, and on June 19, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment that the plaintiff failed to state a claim.
- Kimble v. Willis, No. 02-2984 (D. Md. June 10, 2004): A Maryland voter sued state officials and the state elections board challenging the 4th Congressional district in the enacted plan as violating the one person, one vote requirement of Article I, Section 2 and as a racial gerrymander. On June 10, 2004, the district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case after finding the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege facts to state his claims.
- Original Plans – HJR 3 (House); SJR 3 (Senate)
- Effectuated = February 22, 2002 (D-controlled General Assembly failed to pass own map)
- Enacted = May 16, 2002
- Litigation History
- In the Matter of Legislative Districting of the State, 805 A.2d 292 (Md. Ct. App. 2002): After the state’s legislative plans were enacted, fourteen different petitions were filed challenging the plans’ constitutionality on a number of grounds, including violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the Voting Rights Act, and the redistricting criteria laid out in the state constitution. On June 11, 2002, the Maryland Court of Appeals concluded that substantial portions of the plans violated the state constitution’s redistricting criteria and were therefore invalid and assumed responsibility for drafting a new plan. On June 21, 2002, the court issued its new legislative redistricting plans and on August 26, 2002, it issued an opinion explaining those plans.
Ballot Measure Process
Kinds of Ballot Measures
Initiatives are not permitted to amend statutes, but referendums are permitted. Initiatives are not permitted to amend the state Constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.
There is not a single-subject rule.
Initiative Subject Restrictions
May not impact a law making any appropriation for maintaining the State Government, or for maintaining or aiding any public institution, not exceeding the next previous appropriation for the same purpose.
The signature requirement for veto referendums is 3% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous gubernatorial election. 2,304,512 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2018 General Election in Maryland, so 69,135 signatures are required for veto referendums. Proponents cannot collect more than half of their signatures in a single county or Baltimore city.
Unless a bill is approved by a three-fifths supermajority in the General Assembly and labeled as an emergency bill, all bills passed by the General Assembly go into effect on the first day of June in the year following the legislative session in which the bill was passed. For emergency bills or bills passed less than 45 days before June 1, referendum petitioners have until 30 days after the bill is passed by the General Assembly to turn in the first one-third of required signatures. If this is accomplished, they have 30 more days to collect and submit the remaining two-thirds of the signatures.
Ballot Title and Summary
The Ballot Title and Summary are written by the Secretary of State.
A fiscal impact statement is not required. There are no circulator restrictions. There are no supermajority requirements.
Source: Md. Const. art. XVI. Maryland State Board of Elections Website
In The News
- It’s Map Drawing Time. Citizens Redistricting Commission Opens Public Submissions, Maryland Matters (9/3/21)
- Prince George’s Residents Urge Redistricting Commission to Keep Communities Whole, Maryland Matters (7/29/21)
- Maryland Assembly Expects to Start Congressional Redistricting Work in Early December, WTOP News (7/24/21)
- Top Maryland Democrats Launch Redistricting Commission Ahead of New Election Maps, The Baltimore Sun (7/8/21)
- Northern Maryland Residents Urge Redistricting Commission to Keep Communities Whole in Proposed Maps, Maryland Matters (6/16/21)
- Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission Announces Members, The Southern Maryland Chronicle (4/15/21)
- Political Notes: New Committee Assignments, Olson Named to Redistricting Commission, The Frederick News-Post (1/14/21)
- Hogan Announces Legislative Redistricting Commission, AP (1/12/21)
- Gov. Hogan Urges Marylanders to Complete 2020 Census Ahead of Deadline, CBS Baltimore (9/3/20)
- Bipartisan Group of State Leaders Urge Marylanders to Take Census Before Sept. 30 Deadline, Maryland Matters (8/28/20)