Gov. Martin O’Malley signed his recommended congressional redistricting plan into law Thursday, but the law will almost certainly be challenged in federal court on a number of grounds, including diluting minority voting strength.
An hour after the Senate corrected 24 technical errors in the bill, O’Malley said the plan “fulfills our constitutional responsibility.”
“The process was fair, the process was open,” the governor asserted.
But Republicans insist the final product was anything but fair and transparent. It shifted more than 300,000 Montgomery Democrats into the 6th Congressional District now served by 10-term Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, and took out reliable Republican voters in Baltimore, Carroll and Frederick counties.
O’Malley did not submit the final version of his plan, which was introduced in the House of Delegates and Senate on Monday morning, until Saturday evening.
As a sign of the “rushed nature” of the bill drafting cited by Republicans, the lawmakers had to amend the legislation twice to correct the technical errors.
From the rostrum Thursday, Senate President Mike Miller publicly reamed the head of the Department of Legislative Services, Karl Aro, for the mistakes in the bill. Aro heads the legislature’s nonpartisan staff of about 750 people and took personal charge of the redistricting process, which he helped draft after two previous censuses.
“The mistakes were unacceptable,” Miller said, after meeting with Aro that morning. “We have to be more careful.”
“It’s not going to happen in the future,” Miller said.
Democrats are already lining up to run against Bartlett. Former Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenburg announced Thursday she would run for the seat. Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola is also expected to make a run.