Petition drive seeks to overturn Maryland's new congressional boundaries

March 27, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, talks on Tuesday about an effort to hold a referendum on Maryland's newest congressional boundaries. With him are, from left, Del. Kathryn L. Afzali, Del. Justin D. Ready and Alex X. Mooney, the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
By Andrew Schotz, Staff Writer

A petition drive to overturn Maryland’s new congressional boundaries has begun, creating the possibility of at least three hot-button referendum questions on the November general-election ballot.

Del. Neil C. Parrott, R-Washington, previously spearheaded a successful petition effort to guarantee a public vote on a new law granting in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants.

Parrott’s group,, also is assisting the Maryland Marriage Alliance on a petition drive against same-sex marriage, which the Maryland General Assembly recently voted to legalize.

Parrott said the wording for the latest congressional redistricting petition was approved Monday, so the drive can begin. He said volunteers will collect signatures outside some polling places during next week’s primary elections.

If the effort is successful, and voters reject the congressional redistricting, the legislature would have to approve a new map, Parrott said, or a court can decide new boundaries. Those new boundaries would take effect in 2014.


Every 10 years, after the U.S. census, states update their congressional boundaries to reflect new population data.

In reshaping Maryland’s eight congressional boundaries, the Democratic-majority General Assembly targeted the 6th District, which Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett has represented for 10 terms.

Several lawsuits to negate the congressional redistricting have failed.

Republican and Democratic advocates for the referendum effort said Tuesday that the latest map was drawn for political gain and unfairly limits representation for minorities.

Parrott said is taking the lead on this petition drive and will get help from other groups, including Marylanders For Coherent & Fair Representation and the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee.

Alex X. Mooney, the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, said Tuesday he also supports the referendum effort.

The Herald-Mailreported in January that a petition drive on congressional redistricting was possible.

Parrott had initial wording for a petition approved in November, then handed control of the effort to Tony Campbell of Towson, Md., the president of Marylanders For Coherent & Fair Representation.

To qualify for a referendum, organizers must collect 55,736 valid signatures by June 30. One-third of those valid signatures must be turned in by May 31.

To bolster their case, supporters cited a poll of likely general election voters done by Magellan Strategies, which was commissioned by Campbell’s group.

Out of 578 people interviewed, 49 percent said they’d sign a petition for a congressional redistricting referendum, and 30 percent would not.

Out of 299 people interviewed, 48 percent said they’d vote to repeal the boundaries approved last fall and 27 percent would not.

Some delegates also objected to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s new boundaries for state Senate and delegate districts and submitted alternative plans.

However, there were no hearings on the alternatives, and the legislative redistricting automatically was approved earlier this session. It will take effect in 2014.

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