Maryland’s electoral landscape remains in flux as state elections officials sort out the effects of a court ruling affecting new legislative maps.
Nearly 500 people filed to run for 47 seats in the Senate and 141 House of Delegates seats. But with the July 19 primary election approaching, some candidates may end up changing districts.
“Redistricting is an ongoing process,” said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
With finalized maps, local boards are now beginning the process of merging those maps with changes of address in voter registration. That process will trigger automatic moves from some candidates on the list published on the state elections board’s website.
Some candidates may initially find redistricting has moved them out of the district where they had intended to run. State law in a redistricting year allows for those candidates to establish residency within six months of the November general election. The deadline for that is May 8.
“It’s not a new filing,” said DeMarinis. “It’s an amendment of the original candidacy filing.”
The final list of changes may not be known until the end of the month or early June.
One of those changes was made Friday after an inquiry by a reporter.
Del. Rick Impallaria, R-Baltimore and Harford counties, filed Feb. 11 in a subdistrict of the 35th legislative district. Currently, the five-term Republican represents the 7th District that includes Harford and Baltimore counties.
Until Friday, his candidacy was listed as provisional — a status that typically denotes candidates who have filed to run but still owe some paperwork to the Board of elections.
Impallaria did not respond to multiple calls for comment.
It’s no understatement to say state legislative redistricting complicated matters. Incumbents and others considering runs for House and Senate seats watched as the legislature redrew 47 legislative districts as part of a decennial process.
The legislature approved the new map in late January, roughly three weeks before the Feb. 22 filing deadline.
Challenges to the maps as well as the state’s congressional redistricting pushed the filing deadline back a month. The state’s Court of Appeals later delayed the deadline one more time, to April 15.
A two-decade-old controversial decision by the Court of Appeals that has muddied elections for years further complicated matters.
By law, a candidate is required to live in the district he or she is representing. A 1998 ruling, frequently referred to as the Blount decision, has complicated that by allowing some candidates to maintain an address that is outside their district.
In that decision, the court ruled that then-Sen. Clarence Blount had not abandoned his long established domicile in the 41st legislative district, even though he also maintained a residence in another jurisdiction where he often slept. The court refused to invalidate Blount’s candidacy, saying that he intended to continue representing his current district.
The ruling has, for decades, effectively neutered attempts to police residency requirements.
It’s the subject of a proposed amendment to the Maryland Constitution that will go before voters in November.
“That change is not in effect for the 2022 election,” said DeMarinis. “We’re still under the same ruling that created the Blount rule for this election.”