Photo above: Second place winner Alexander Mui, Dels. Ron George, Aisha Braveboy, and first place winner Matthew Kurdt
They may be "tilting at windmills" as one commented, but a coalition of good government groups is trying to keep their push for reform of political redistricting alive in the 2014 campaign.
On Friday, they awarded the cash prizes for their cartoon contest to illustrate the odd shapes of Maryland's congressional districts, tied with North Carolina for having the most gerrymandered districts in the country, according to a Washington Post story last month.
The Tame the Gerrymander coalition made up of Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the National Council of Jewish Women Annapolis Section also honored eight legislators for sponsoring bills to change the current redistricting process.
They included Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, and Del. Ron George, a Republican candidate for governor. The other lawmakers recognized at the event included Sens. Delores Kelley, Allan Kittleman, and Norman Stone and Dels. Patrick Hogan, Susan McComas, and Heather Mizeur, a Democratic candidate for governor.
The Tame the Gerrymander Coalition has a series of events planned for the rest of the year to continue to bring attention to this critical issue.
Ralph Watkins, representing the League of Women Voters of Maryland, said on July 17 the group will hold a birthday party in Lawyer's Mall at the State House for Elbridge Gerry, the Massachusetts governor who was the inspiration for the term gerrymander. They held a similar party last year.
In September, Watkins said, "We will profile how absurd our congressional districts have become by hosting a relay run around [Congressional] District 3, one of the most contorted districts in the nation. We also plan to hold a forum later in the year that will focus on solutions that would move Maryland forward.”
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said, “Gerrymandered districts create situations where all votes are not equal. They also make it difficult for legislators to know and represent their constituents, and undermine confidence in the democratic process."
“Our elected officials must take action, and we will be the wasp at the garden party until they do,” said Carol Ann Hecht of the National Council of Jewish Women.