Republicans struggling to get signatures against congressional redistricting

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At a Ritchie Highway car wash, Republicans push petition drive on congressional redistricting.

At a Ritchie Highway car wash, Republicans push petition drive on congressional redistricting.

Republicans are having a tough time getting enough petition signatures on a petition to bring to referendum the congressional redistricting plan passed by the legislature. The map redrew lines to make it possible for Democrats to pick up the 6th Congressional District seat of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland.

“It’s a struggle,” admitted Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County delegate who created the MdPetitions website that helped put the immigrant tuition DREAM Act on November’s ballot. “We’re working hard to get the first third.”

About 18,000 signatures are due next Thursday to the State Board of Elections. The petitions against same-sex marriage must also be filed at the same time, but that is going better because more groups are involved, Parrott said.

During Thursday afternoon’s rush hour, Parrott and supporters placed sign waving demonstrators along Ritchie Highway (Route 2) to show how the redistricting lines cross that road five times in Anne Arundel County, which is split into four congressional districts.

“The citizens of this county can’t elect a member of Congress,” Del. Steve Schuh complained, adding that Anne Arundel County was “most affected” by gerrymandering. Anne Arundel has two-thirds of the population to create its own congressional district and, for decades, county residents have been elected to Congress.

“This is a naked political ploy by a one-party monopoly,” said Dan Bongino, a Severna Park resident who is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. “We need a diversity of voices.”

Parrott said that once they get the first third of the 55,736 signatures needed, the rest will be easier to get. He admitted that people are less pumped up about signing the redistricting petition than they are for the one against the gay marriage law.

–Len Lazarick