Comptroller Speaks Out Against Question 5, Calls for Bipartisan Commission to Determine Districts

- Maryland has Least Compact Congressional Districts in Nation -

Annapolis, MD (October 16, 2012)

Comptroller Peter Franchot, today spoke out against Question 5, the Congressional Districting Plan being voted on in next month’s statewide ballot. Instead, he called for a new approach to congressional and legislative redistricting that takes the process and the decision out of the hands of partisan politicians and turns it over to a bipartisan commission. He made the announcement on WBAL Radio’s The C4 Show and is expected to make a similar call at this afternoon’s Institute of Internal Auditor’s District Conference in Linthicum.

“The people of Maryland should send a message to their leaders in Annapolis by voting no on Question 5. Our leaders were driven by partisan motives when coming up with the proposed map and not by the public interest,” Franchot said. “The map that resulted from the redistricting process has embarrassed our state, diminished public access to their elected representatives and further eroded public confidence in our political process,” he added.

The Comptroller is calling for Maryland to join the ranks of several other states which take the legislative and congressional redistricting process completely out of the hands of those with vested interest in the outcome and give it instead to a bipartisan commission that is divided equally between Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

In addition to the flawed process, the Comptroller criticized the sprawling and oddly-shaped districts that are created under the current plan. According to a non-partisan study released by Azavea, earlier this month, Maryland now has the least compact congressional districts in the nation. In fact, one federal judge called the third district “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

“I am a Democrat, and I like to win elections as much of the next guy- but not by fixing the outcome and not by compromising our state’s reputation by making a mockery of the electoral process,” Franchot said.
Combined with the Comptroller’s call last month for new, real-time campaign finance reporting, this proposal would put Maryland on the forefront of political transparency and fairness.

“This is a wake-up call for Maryland. The fair-minded people of this state need to step up and demand that we take this process back from the politicians and special interests who have the most at stake and in the outcome,” said Franchot.

MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Feldmann, 410-260-6346 (office); 443-336-0215 (cell)