Hogan Vetoes Congressional Map Passed By General Assembly, House And Senate Quickly Override
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- The Maryland General Assembly quickly overrode Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a new map outlining the boundaries for Maryland's eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The governor held a press conference Tuesday afternoon declaring the newly drawn lines disenfranchise voters and violate the Voting Rights Act, saying the map hurts majority-minority jurisdictions such as Baltimore City and Prince George's County by carving them up and putting them in different districts.
Hours after Hogan spoke, the House of Delegates and state Senate overrode his veto by votes of 96-42 and 32-14, respectively. A three-fifths majority in both chambers is needed to override an executive veto.
"The maps we passed and overrode are more compact than our current maps, they're more contiguous, they're simpler," Del. Eric Luedtke said (D-Montgomery County).
"I am pleased Gov. Larry Hogan acted immediately, but more importantly I am proud the Maryland General Assembly acted swiftly to override the Governor's veto and pass a fair, new congressional map for the State of Maryland," Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said.
At his press conference Thursday, Hogan said the map "makes a mockery of our democracy" and called it "disgracefully gerrymandered." He also implied the map for local legislative districts would be even more tilted toward Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in the state by 2-1.
Speaking in the Maryland State House, the governor noted the building's history as the site of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the Revolutionary War, and the location of the first peacetime capitol in the country's history.
"American democracy literally began right here, in this very place," he said. "And yet, when it comes to free and fair elections, Maryland is failing to live up to that proud legacy."
Hogan called on the Biden administration to add Maryland to a recently filed Justice Department lawsuit against Texas alleging redistricting plans in that state violate the voting rights of minorities. He also suggested there would be separate legal challenges of the district lines in state and federal courts.
Redistricting in Maryland happens every decade. "Every ten years, when we do the Census, we have to reallocate congressional districts so the populations are balanced," said Todd Eberly, Political Science Professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Some voters, like Sister Fran Gorsuch, a Democrat, said she worries these maps could favor the majority, "people who would be in the minority really don't have a say about it and I think that's not healthy for our country, it's not healthy for our democracy."
And the governor agrees.
"These maps cannot and will not stand," Hogan said.
But Del. Luedtke defended the maps.
"We went through an exhaustive process, we got hundreds of comments from people all over the state that we took into consideration in drawing them," he said. "We did our constitutional duty, we did our job."
Following passage earlier this week, Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) released a joint statement saying the map creates more compact districts while keeping most Marylanders with their same representative.
"It also demonstrates a steadfast commitment to the federal Voting Rights Act by ensuring that minority voters train their ability to elect their preferred candidates," they said.
Republicans have argued the map makes the only House district with a Republican representation, the 1st Congressional District, even more competitive. The remaining seven seats in the state's U.S. House delegation are held by Democrats.
The map was approved by a commission with six legislators: four Democrats including Jones and Ferguson, who supported it, and two Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire and House Minority Leader Jason Buckel, who opposed it.
Hogan favored a different map drawn by a nine-member commission he appointed. The panel of three Democrats, three Republicans and three Independents proposed a map that would have mostly kept the 1st Congressional District as is and brought back a district western Maryland that historically went Republican.
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