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On birthday of ‘gerrymander’ namesake, rally planned to reform redistricting

Nearly a decade before the next redistricting, a government watchdog group and some elected officials plan to rally in Annapolis on Wednesday to urge a rethinking of Maryland’s process, which is rife with political influence.

Calling Maryland “worst in the nation for gerrymandering in its Congressional districts,” Common Cause Maryland and others are hosting a rally outside the State House on the birthday of former Vice President Elbridge Gerry, for whom the term “gerrymander” is named.

Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, a Prince George’s County Democrat, and Anne Arundel County Councilman Christopher J. Trumbauer, a Democrat, are expected to attend the rally.

Maryland districts were so badly gerrymandered in the last round of redistricting that a federal judge called the 3rd District “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

The redrawn 6th District brought a large swath of Democratic voters in Montgomery County voters into an area previously dominated by Republicans, helping Democratic U.S. Rep. John Delaney to victory over Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who had held the seat for 20 years.

The redistricting was done legally but that didn’t stop Marylanders from petitioning the new map to referendum on Election Day 2012. More than 64 percent of statewide voters OK’d the redrawn map.

Gerry, who was governor of Massachusetts before being elected vice president of the United States in 1812, drew the ire of some for redistricting the state to the advantage of his Republican Party in 1811. Members of the Federalist press responded by drawing cartoons featuring a salamander-shaped election district — the “gerrymander.”

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