The stateâ€™s new Congressional redistricting map is heading back to court.
On July 11, the Maryland State Board of Elections certified that the stateâ€™s Congressional redistricting map would be on the ballot in November for voters to approve or reject. The Board found that MDPetitions, a conservative organization formed by â€śa group of Maryland citizens who recognize the need for common sense in state government,â€ť gathered the requisite signatures online. The required minimum number of signatures was 55,736.
However, on July 24, the Maryland Democratic State Central Committee and other individuals filed a legal action against the Maryland State Board of Election, alleging that the Board improperly certified the Republican-backed challenge to the stateâ€™s new Congressional Districts.
So now, the ballot referendum is up in the air.
When the new Congressional map passed the state legislature in October 2011, Republicans criticized it for attempting to reshape the 6th District into a future â€śguaranteed Democraticâ€ť seat. In addition, minority voters claimed the map lines diluted the voting power of racial groups.
Maryland law does not require that districts be contiguous or compact.
A federal court panel upheld the map in an early court challenge by Republicans.
In the new Congressional map, Gaithersburg has been moved out of the 8th Congressional District, represented for five terms by Chris Van Hollen (D) and into the 6th Congressional District, now represented by Roscoe Bartlett (R).
To remake the 6th District â€” Bartlettâ€™s western Maryland stronghold of two decades â€” state legislators deleted parts of conservative Harford and Baltimore counties. Out of the suburban 8th Congressional District, which Van Hollen represented, they took Gaithersburg and some of the surrounding area and put those traditionally more liberal voters into the sixth.
The new 6th District includes all of Garrett, Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties as well as parts of Montgomery, Baltimore and Harford counties â€“ and, theoretically, is now a district much more winnable by a Democrat.
Democrat John Delaney won the nomination of his party in the April 3 primary, and he will face incumbent Bartlett on November 6 in the general election.
Voters will now have to wait to see how the Circuit Court of Ann Arundel County rules on the question of whether the State Board of Elections properly or improperly certified nearly 56,000 signatures.