HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — We like to think the holidays give us a chance to take a break from politics. But some high stakes will be decided soon for Washington County, Maryland voters after we digest that festive turkey and pumpkin pie.
A nonpartisan grassroots group right here in the Hub City region is leading the fight for fairness and transparency in the political process. Every ten years, after the federal Census, new maps decide our congressional and legislative districts. Genie Massey with the Washington County League of Women Voters is paying close attention to how those maps are drawn.
“We stand for the idea of voters having a voice in drawing districts rather than politicians getting to pick where their districts are,” Massey says.
Competing sets of maps, including plans from an an independent citizens panel, will be decided by the Maryland General Assembly, where legislators have their own precinct boundaries in mind.
“The Princeton gerrymandering commission has given the governor’s commission map very high scores and not great scores to the legislative map,” Massey says.
And the complexion of the western Maryland congressional district could change.
“Although the western Maryland district is now running down into Montgomery County, and the General Assembly might give us more of Frederick,” Massey explains. “The Frederick community has grown so large and so diverse it’s no guarantee what will happen in the next election.”
Federal courts can only step in if there is racial discrimination. “If there was a legal challenge to this redistricting process it would be decided within the state court system.”
The political stakes are high. And the League of Women Voters from Washington County and elsewhere from around the State of Maryland will be in Annapolis next month to make their voices heard.
And Massey and the Washington County League will be at at the state capital the morning of December 8 as the General Assembly closes in on its vote to decide the new congressional and legislative maps.