Residents of both parties say they dislike Maryland redistricting

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Photo - Maryland's redistricting map
Maryland's redistricting map
Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

Frederick resident Lucy Hogan said she will be glad to see Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett go if he's defeated by Democratic challenger John Delaney on Tuesday. But that doesn't mean she feels right about how he could be forced from office -- a redistricting process that gives gerrymandering a new name, she said.

"They redrew the district just to get rid of him," Hogan said. "I think the way they redraw the districts just adds to the tension [between parties]."

Maryland voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, say they are frustrated by Maryland's redistricting process -- maps drawn by Gov. Martin O'Malley drastically altered the state's 6th Congressional District, which Bartlett has represented for the last 20 years, in an effort to make the Republican congressman more vulnerable.

Gone from the district are Westminster and many of the more rural, northern Maryland towns bordering Pennsylvania, replaced by parts of liberal Montgomery County, allowing Delaney to enter the mix as a candidate in what was once a majority Republican district.

In 2010, 208,000 registered Republicans easily outnumbered the district's roughly 160,000 registered Democrats, according to the state Board of Elections.

Tuesday's winner will represent roughly 193,000 registered Democrats, compared with just 146,000 registered Republicans.

The district is one of several in the state affected by the redrawn congressional map -- the new 3rd and 6th Congressional Districts rank third and ninth, respectively, among the least-compact congressional districts in the country, according to a study by Azavea, a Philadelphia geospatial analysis firm.

"You shouldn't be able to carve up the state like a Thanksgiving turkey," said Tony Campbell, chairman of the Repeal the Gerrymander ballot issue committee. "A blindfolded person with an Etch A Sketch could've done a better job than this."

A vote against Question 5 on Maryland ballots would send O'Malley back to the drawing board to create a new congressional map. Hogan said she would support forcing the governor to try again, but said, "I'm not sure it'd do any difference."

Olney resident Nancy Faulconer is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards in the 4th District but come Tuesday will have new representation as a member of the 3rd District, which now stretches from Owings Mills to Annapolis and Olney.

The likelihood of U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes' re-election underscores Faulconer's predicament as a pessimistic Republican voter who rarely sees members of her party elected to office in Maryland -- a situation made worse by the latest redistricting map, she said.

"[Democrats] redraw the lines to make it more advantageous for themselves," Faulconer said. "It's not fair representation."

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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