Vague wording could stump voters on Maryland redistricting

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Some Maryland officials worry that voters reading Question 5 on the state's ballot won't know what they're being asked.

The measure would affirm the congressional districts the state legislature approved last year. If it is rejected, the legislature would have to create a new map, though the current districts probably would remain in place until the next election.

(View sample ballots for Montgomery and Prince George's counties)

But some worry that voters learning about the measure in the voting booth might think the question is a routine legal procedure, not that opponents are trying to overturn the map, considered the most gerrymandered in the country.

Redistricting ballot language (Question 5)
"Establishes the boundaries for the State's eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution."

"Establishes the boundaries for the State's eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution," the question reads.

State Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington County, unsuccessfully sued the state over the vague wording.

Opponents are trying to educate voters by showing them the map, convinced that one glance will convince them that gerrymandering has gone too far.

But the vague language might benefit opponents, said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

"The indications seem to be when people decide that they are going to vote even though they don't quite understand what they're voting for, if it's a yes or no option, they vote no," he said.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner