ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) – Maryland's General Assembly on Wednesday approved a new congressional map to meet the deadline imposed by a judge last week.
The House of Delegates voted 94-41 for the new map Wednesday, sending it next to Gov. Larry Hogan's desk. A spokesperson for the governor said he is reviewing the new map, and action could come at any time.
Anne Arundel County Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia ruled the original elections map violated the state's constitution. In her ruling, she struck down the original map as "extreme partisan gerrymandering," diluting Republican votes.
"It was, I think, a Herculean task for a new Congressional map to be prepared in five days," Montgomery County Democrat Del. Eric Luedtke said Wednesday.
Some Republican lawmakers said the new map "barely gives lip service to the judge's ruling."
"Hopefully, sometime in my lifetime, not only in Maryland, but throughout the country, we find a better, more bipartisan pathway toward redrawing districts," Del. Christopher Adams, a Republican from the Eastern Shore, said.
The newly-drawn map notably changes the attempt to move part of Rep. Andy Harris' district to parts of Annapolis, which would have made his district far more competitive for a Democrat to unseat Maryland's lone Republican in Congress.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland and Common Cause Maryland each applauded Judge Battaglia's ruling.
"My personal first impression is that (the new map) is more compact. It seems to follow the legislative requirements, and, of course, the judge will make that decision," Beth Hufnagel, chair of the League of Women Voters of Maryland's Redistricting Committee, said. "We're pleased President Ferguson and Speaker Jones, and Legislative Services with, I believe, a good faith attempt to comply with the judge's requirements. I think that's what they succeeded in doing."
Hufnagel says the new maps appear to have "must less Democratic bias," but the rushed new mapping process could have been avoided if Maryland adapts an independent, multi-partisan commission to draw districts.
"That's really important to build up trust in our democracy again," Hufnagel said. "If a party wishes to get seats, they need to earn them, and I think that will be true this November."
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh Wednesday filed appeals to Judge Battaglia's ruling to appeals courts.
The redistricting fight already pushed Maryland's primary back three weeks to July 19. The new map is also subject to legal challenges.
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